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In the same section :
Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (English version)
Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (version française)
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Laboratoire d’Astrophysique Universitaire de Nice (version française)

Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (English version)
Thursday 25 March 2004, by Gerd Weigelt

The main areas of work are Radio- and Infrared Astronomy. Technological work at the institute covers the whole spectrum from radio-, via (sub)millimeter-, to infrared wavelengths. Research areas include star formation, stars in late stages of their evolution, pulsars, the interstellar medium of our Milky Way and external galaxies, the Galactic Center and its environment, magnetic fields in the universe, radio galaxies, quasars and other active galaxies, dust and gas at cosmological distances, galaxies in the early epochs of the universe, cosmic rays, astroparticle physics, and the theory of star formation and active galactic nuclei.

The institute is heavily involved in a number of large international projects:

- the US-German Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA),
- the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX): development and operation of a submillimeter telescope in the Atacama desert of Chile under MPIfR leadership,
- the US-European Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA),
- the Far-Infrared and Submillimeter Telescope satellite observatory HERSCHEL (formerly known as FIRST),
- an upgrade of the Effelsberg 100-meter radio telescope,
- the conception of a next-generation radio telescope with a collecting area of one square kilometer (Square Kilometer Array, SKA),
- the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Chile (AMBER),
- the US-European Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona, and
- the continuation of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) to millimeter wavelengths and to extremely high angular resolution using antennas in space.

History of the Institute

- 1966 foundation of the institute. Construction of the 100-meter radio telescope in Bad Münstereifel-Effelsberg
- 1972 start of operations. Development and operation of the 10-meter submillimeter telescope (Heinrich-Hertz-Telescope) jointly with Steward Observatory.
- 2001 start of the APEX project.


Max-Planck-Institut fuer Radioastronomie
Auf dem Huegel 69
D-53121 Bonn
Tel +49 (0)228 525 0
Fax +49 (0)228 525 229
Web site:

Participation of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in the AMBER project

The MPIfR was responsible for developing the AMBER detector system as well as the detector control and data acquisition software. The detector allows the recording of digital infrared images at high frame rates. The challenge was to build it with the highest possible sensitivity, very low noise, and very good signal stability. High sensitivity could only be achieved by cooling the detector down to -200 degrees Celsius. Without this cooling, the infrared sensor would immediately be saturated by the surrounding thermal radiation. For the development of the electronics, sophisticated analog design principles and modern digital signal processing methods were applied. The detector electronics was totally developed by the MPIfR Division for Infrared Technology alone. The detector cooler was built by Infrared Laboratories. Following assembly of the subsystems, the AMBER instrument was integrated and thoroughly tested by all consortium groups at LAOG. It was then shipped to its final destination at Paranal.

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