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Astronomy and Astrophysics, Cosmology

The aim of astrophysics is to study our Universe and the galaxies, stars, and planets therein with physical methods and to understand their origin and evolution. At the observatory almost the entire spectrum of modern astrophysics is covered in research and teaching.

We gain data for our investigations at the most powerful observatories worldwide, for which we also develop (measuring) instruments ourselves (e.g. for the Very Large Telescope and the Extremely Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory). We participate in large international collaborations (e.g. Dark Energy Survey) and operate our own 2m telescope on mount Wendelstein in the Bavarian Alps. The observations are analysed with sophisticated computer programs and compared with very detailed time-consuming simulations. Only in this way it is possible to understand complex phenomena such as the formation of planets from dust disks, the development of galaxies over billions of years, or the influence of dark matter and dark energy on the evolution of the Universe (as a whole).

Special expertise exists at the observatory in the following areas:

  • Modelling of the formation of planets and circumstellar disks
  • Search for extrasolar planets using the transit method and the radial velocity method
  • Dynamics of interstellar gas and dust and the formation of stars
  • Massive stars, atmospheres, winds and final stages
  • Structure and formation of galaxies and their central black holes
  • Formation and evolution of galaxy clusters and their dark matter
  • Measurements, theoretical models, and simulations of the evolution of the Universe and its large-scale structure
  • Dark matter and dark energy

Prof. Dr. Ralf Bender

  • Emergence and development of galaxies
  • Dark matter and gravitational lenses
  • Black holes in galactic cores


Prof. Dr. Tilman Birnstiel

  • Planet Formation
  • Protoplanetary Disks and Their Evolution
  • Computational Astrophysics


Prof. Dr. Andreas Burkert

  • Computational Astrophysics
  • Cosmology and dark matter
  • Emergence and development of galaxies
  • Emergence of stars and planets


Prof. Dr. Georgi Dvali

  • String theory
  • Elementary particle physics
  • Cosmology and astrophysics


Prof. Dr. Barbara Ercolano

  • Formation of stars and planets
  • Radiative transfer
  • Computational Astrophysics


Prof. Dr. Harald Lesch

  • Cosmic electrodynamics
  • Particle acceleration at TeV energy levels in active galactic cores
  • Coherent radiation processes in cosmic systems


Prof. Dr. Joseph Mohr

  • Nature of the cosmic acceleration
  • Evolution of large scale structure
  • Galaxy cluster formation and evolution


Prof. Dr. Viatcheslav Mukhanov

  • General Theory of Relativity
  • Cosmology, Inflation
  • Black Holes


Prof. Dr. Thomas Preibisch

  • Young stars and star formation
  • X-ray observations
  • Infrared interferometry


Prof. Dr. Jochen Weller

  • Cosmology and Dark energy
  • Large scale structure and galaxy clusters
  • Cosmic microwave background