O2: A new season!
30 November 2016

A new animatic in collaboration with scientists of the GATIS network

New movie about the launch of LISA Pathfinder is now online

A survey over the scientific activities of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI)

10th April 2017

Professor Hermann Nicolai, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), has received one of the prestigious Advanced Grants of the European Research Council (ERC). The ERC is funding Prof. Nicolai´s research on a unified theory of quantum gravity with approximately € 1.9 million. In Nicolai’s approach symmetries play a decisive role.

04th April 2017

In his PhD thesis Dr. Dietrich investigated the gravitational wave signals of merging neutron stars. Gravitational waves from black holes have been detected directly in 2015 for the first time. Dietrich’s results increase our knowledge about neutron stars and help to interpret upcoming gravitational wave detections of neutron star mergers. Dietrich did his PhD at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena from 2012 to 2015, and defended his thesis in 2016. Since the Fall of 2015 he is a postdoctoral scholar in the Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity division at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam.

15th March 2017

Welcome to the tenth issue of the LIGO Magazine. This issue comes as we enter a “new season” of gravitational-wave astronomy: continuing the search for new signals with LIGO’s second observing run, O2”. We begin with an overview of O2 and an interview, “Getting ready for O2: A data analysis perspective”, with gravitational-wave astronomers Sarah Caudill and Vivien Raymond when they were gearing up to begin analyzing the new data. Michael Zevin discusses the new "Gravity Spy ” citizen science project, which is drawing insight from thousands of volunteers to characterize new LIGO data.

28th February 2017

Newly established Max Planck Independent Research Group in Hannover

In January 2017 – just one year after the dawn of gravitational-wave astronomy – the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) has expanded through the addition of a young research team. Lead by Dr. Frank Ohme, the Max Planck Independent Research Group “Binary Merger Observations and Numerical Relativity” will study collisions of black holes and neutron stars through sophisticated computer simulations, exploring some the fundamental questions in the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy over the next five years.

08th February 2017

Further strengthening of research at the AEI and the Laser Zentrum Hannover

One year ago, the first direct detection of gravitational waves was announced. Laser experts from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI), from the Leibniz Universität Hannover, and from the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) played leading roles in this discovery, because their super-precise laser technology at the heart of the LIGO instruments in the USA enabled the detection of weak gravitational-wave signals. Now, AEI researchers have presented two new technologies capable of further increasing the sensitivity of future gravitational-wave detectors. The Max Planck Society now strengthens the development of laser systems for third-generation gravitational-wave detectors. The AEI, in collaboration with the LZH, receives over the next five years 3.75 million Euro research funding for the development of novel lasers and stabilization methods.

24th January 2017

“Minerva” will calculate gravitational waves faster than the institute’s previous supercomputer

The new supercomputer “Minerva” has been put into operation at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI). With 9,504 compute cores, 38 TeraByte memory and a peak performance of 302.4 TeraFlop/s it is more than six times as powerful as its predecessor. The scientists of the department “Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity” can now compute significantly more gravitational waveforms and also carry out more complex simulations.

11th January 2017

With the help of tens of thousands of volunteers the distributed computing project Einstein@Home discovers 13 new gamma-ray pulsars

An analysis that would have taken more than a thousand years on a single computer has found within one year more than a dozen new rapidly rotating neutron stars in data from the Fermi gamma-ray space telescope. With computing power donated by volunteers from all over the world an international team led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hannover, Germany, searched for tell-tale periodicities in 118 Fermi sources of unknown nature. In 13 they discovered a rotating neutron star at the heart of the source.

11th January 2017

Prof. Dr. Heinz Billing dies on 4 January 2017 at the age of 102


Heinz Billing is often mentioned in the same breath as Konrad Zuse as an important German computer pioneer, but he has also been intensively involved in gravitational wave research since the early 1970s. He pioneered key fundamental technologies that led directly to detectors like GEO600, the British-German gravitational wave detector near Hannover and the US LIGO project (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory) would not have been possible. Heinz Billing witnessed the culmination of his life’s work – the first direct detection of gravitational waves on 14 September 2015 – at the proud age of 101 years.

A new perspective on Quantum Field Theory

The world of very large structures like planets and galaxies is described by Einsteins's theory of General Relativity whereas the world of subatomic particles is described by Quantum Field Theory.

New movie about the launch of LISA Pathfinder

LISA Pathfinder: Follow some of the scientists who made it happen as they recapture the exciting times of the first steps into the era of gravitational waves in space.

12th December 2016

AEI Scientist Maria Alessandra Papa, together with three LSC colleagues, will accept the award on behalf of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration on December 12, 2016, in a ceremony in Washington DC

Every year, the American magazine Foreign Policy honours the world’s preeminent thought leaders and public intellectuals. The magazine recognizes people “whose ideas have translated into action over the past year, thereby changing and shaping the world we live in.” Among the prominent awardees of past years were Angela Merkel and Umberto Eco, and in 2016 the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) joins the illustrious “Top 100 Global Thinker” list.

08th December 2016

International science team finds most massive double neutron star system with distributed volunteer computing project Einstein@Home in data from the Arecibo radio telescope

Almost 25,000 light years away, two dead stars, each more massive than our Sun, but only 20 kilometers in diameter, orbit one another in less than five hours. This unusual pair of extreme objects, known as neutron stars, was discovered by an international team of scientists – including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy – and by volunteers from the distributed computing project Einstein@Home. Their find is the latest addition to a short list of only 14 known similar binary systems, and it also is the most massive of those. Double neutron star systems are important cosmic laboratories that enable some of the most precise tests of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. They also play an important role as potential gravitational-wave sources for the LIGO detectors.

30th November 2016

AEI researchers expect new discoveries from LIGO instruments

On Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, the Advanced LIGO (aLIGO) detectors in the USA and GEO600 near Hannover, Germany, officially began their second observation run “O2”. The aLIGO sensitivity is increased compared to the first observation run (O1) during which gravitational waves from two colliding black hole pairs were observed. Researchers of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) in Hannover and Potsdam have continued to improve the data-analysis tools, the source modeling, and the detector technology. They are leading partners in the international gravitational physics community and expect further signals to be detected in O2.

22nd September 2016

Light with special quantum properties enables for the first time a new method to measure photodetector quantum efficiency

So-called squeezed laser light has tailored quantum properties and enables measurements more precise than those with normal laser light. For six years it has been used successfully at the gravitational-wave detector GEO600 near Hanover, Germany, to increase the measurement precision significantly. In a laboratory experiment, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI) and at the  Leibniz Universität Hannover have now generated the most strongly squeezed laser light ever and have surpassed their own world record by far. The record-breaking light also enables a new method to determine the quantum efficiency of photodetectors. The new technique is independent of established methods and does not require laboriously calibrating reference light sources.

23rd August 2016

The prize recognizes contributions to the discovery of gravitational waves

Today, the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil presented Prof. Alessandra Buonanno, Prof. Bruce Allen und Prof. Karsten Danzmann with the Lower Saxony State Award 2016. Alessandra Buonanno is director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in Potsdam, and her colleagues Bruce Allen and Karsten Danzmann are directors of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in Hannover and professors at the Leibniz Universität Hannover. The three scientists have been honored for their fundamental contributions to the first detection of gravitational waves, published in Physical Review Letters. About 100 of the approximately 1000 authors are members of AEI and Leibniz Universität.

International scientists gathered in Hannover to discuss status and future prospects in gravitational wave astronomy

The era of gravitational wave astronomy began a few months ago with the first direct detection of gravitational waves. Now, about 150 scientists from all over the world followed the invitation of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in Hannover and gathered for discussions of the most recent developments and the next steps in gravitational wave research.

“The discovery electrified scientists from several fields because with gravitational waves we will explore the Universe in the most comprehensive way ever”, summarized Dr. Badri Krishnan, chair of the local conference organizing committee and staff scientist at the AEI.

June 15th 2016

Key contributions from Max Planck and Leibniz Universität Hannover researchers to second gravitational-wave event found in LIGO data

On December 26, 2015 the LIGO instruments detected a second gravitational wave. The observed signal originated from a pair of merging black holes of about 14 and 8 solar masses – smaller than the ones detected on September 14, 2015. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam and Hannover and the Leibniz Universität Hannover have contributed to the discovery in several key areas: the development of highly accurate gravitational-wave models, searches to detect faint signals, assessment of their statistical significance, determining their astrophysical parameters, and advanced detector technology. This second discovery proves that a new era of gravitational-wave astronomy has begun.

June 7th 2016

The perfect free fall in space with key contributions from Hannover researchers

The ESA satellite mission LISA Pathfinder has successfully demonstrated the technology for a gravitational wave observatory in space such as LISA.

After a picture perfect start, a journey to its destination some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth towards the Sun, and a successful release of the test masses, LISA Pathfinder began its job as a space laboratory on 1 March. Now scientists presented the results form the first two months of operations.

May 19th 2016

May 23 - 26: International scientists gather in Hannover to discuss status and future prospects in gravitational wave astronomy

The era of gravitational wave astronomy began a few months ago with the first direct detection of gravitational waves. The discovery caused worldwide enthusiasm. Even US president Barack Obama tweeted his congratulations to the community.

May 10th 2016

The Faculty Senate of Chalmers University of Technology will bestow the degree Doctor of Technology on Prof Dr Hermann Nicolai, director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI). The ceremony for conferring the doctor's degree will take place on Saturday, May 14th 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

May 9th 2016

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam develop an accurate model for the detection and interpretation of gravitational waves emitted by neutron stars in binary systems. This model contains, for the first time, a realistic description of how neutron stars are deformed just before they collide. As the deformation depends on the exotic physics in neutron star interiors and directly influences the gravitational waves more detailed information about the science contained in the expected signals is now available. This will enable more robust measurements leading to an improved understanding of the properties of the densest objects in our universe.

April 25th, 2016

Nikhef and Albert Einstein Institute sign cooperation agreement at the Hannover Messe

Today, Prof. Dr. Karsten Danzmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hannover and director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics at Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH) and Prof. Dr. Stan Bentvelsen, director of the National Institute for Subatomic Physics (Nationaal instituut voor subatomaire fysica/Nikhef) signed a declaration in the presence of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to strengthen scientific and technological cooperation in the area of gravitational wave research.

March 8th 2016

Perfectly still satellite laboratory to validate key technologies for gravitational-wave detection in space

After completing a long series of tests on the spacecraft and payload,  the ESA mission LISA Pathfinder has started its science mission. Over the next six months it will conduct hundreds of experiments to pave the way for future space-borne gravitational-wave observatories like eLISA. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) and the Institute for Gravitational Physics of Leibniz Universität Hannover are leading mission partners

LISA Pathfinder is a technology demonstrator satellite mission, about 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth towards the Sun. There, mission scientists have now set up a space laboratory to study the perfect free fall of two cubic test masses. The team will use it to test technologies necessary for future space-borne gravitational-wave observatories.

February 16th 2016

Major milestone towards science operations in March

The LISA Pathfinder mission scientists have successfully released both of the cubic gold–platinum test masses inside the satellite. LISA Pathfinder will place these cubes in the most precise free fall ever obtained to demonstrate technologies for observing gravitational waves from space.

LISA Pathfinder was launched on December 3, 2015 and reached its operational orbit – about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth towards the Sun – on January 22, 2016. The first science payload components were switched on successfully between January 11 and 13 and further commissioning has been ongoing since then.

February 11th 2016

LIGO Opens New Window on the Universe with Observation of Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes
Key contributions from Max Planck Society and Leibniz Universität Hannover researchers

For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

January 13th 2016

First science payload systems successfully switched on and tested

Since December 3, 2015, LISA Pathfinder is in space and still on the way to its target position that the satellite will reach in late January. Mission scientist have now surccessfully switched on and tested the first science payload systems

Between January 11 and 13, 2016, important science payload components – the laser system, the data management unit and several inertial sensor systems – have been successfully switched on and their operability has been confirmed.

LISA Pathfinders scientific payload and its integration into the satellite

The highly sensitive scientific payload of the LISA Pathfinder Mission (LPF) was now completed and integrated into the satellite after more than 10 years of intense development. The science instruments are the core of the mission.

From the 7th Issue:

In addition to articles on Advanced LIGO and the observation of gravitational waves from certain sources alongside studying their electromagnetic emissions with other telescopes, you can read about LISA Pathfinder, a review of the book "Gravity's Ghost and Big Dog" as well as an interview with Joseph H. Taylor. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1993 together with Russell Hulse for the indirect proof of gravitational waves.

Read the full edition here:



September 1st 2015

The satellite is completed

LISA Pathfinder (LPF), the test mission to demonstrate new technologies necessary for the planned gravitational wave observatory eLISA, will be shipped to the spaceport in Kourou on September 3rd, 2015, in preparation for launch. “We have developed completely new technologies to capture the sound of the universe in the future. Now we are eagerly awaiting launch and the first data”, says Prof. Karsten Danzmann, director at the AEI and professor at the Leibniz Universität Hannover.

August 4th 2015

NASA review greenlights satellite construction

The GRACE Follow-On tandem satellites are on track for their launch in 2017. This is the result of the system integration review conducted 21-23 July by NASA. The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI) in Hannover is responsible for the design and technical supervision of a novel laser interferometer on board the satellites, which shall significantly increase measurement accuracy.

Jul 29th 2015

Max Planck Scientists Find Evidence for Stellar Companion's Activity Cycles

Pulsars are rapidly rotating compact remnants born in the explosions of massive stars. They can be observed through their lighthouse-like beams of radio waves and gamma-rays. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI) in Hannover, Germany, now have precisely measured the properties of a binary star system with a gamma-ray millisecond pulsar. Using new methods, the researchers analyzed archival data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope more precisely than possible before. They discovered variations in the orbital period of the interacting binary system that can be explained by magnetic activity cycles of the companion star.

While the LISA Pathfinder (LPF) satellite is undergoing its last tests before shipping to the launch site and the launch in autumn, the LPF scientists prepare for the mission operations.

Next steps: Shipment to Kourou and launch in autumn

After more than 10 years of intense development, the highly sensitive science payload of the LISA Pathfinder Mission (LPF) has been completed and integrated into the satellite.  The science instruments are the core of the mission.
“LISA Pathfinder will test novel technologies in space whose function and performance cannot be tested on the ground at all or only in a limited fashion. LPF will pave the way for the gravitational wave observatory eLISA,” says Prof. Karsten Danzmann, Director at the AEI and professor at the Leibniz Universität Hannover. eLISA (evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) is scheduled for launch in 2034.

The Advanced LIGO Project, a major upgrade that will increase the sensitivity of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories instruments by a factor of 10 and provide a 1,000-fold increase in the number of astrophysical candidates for gravitational wave signals, will be officially dedicated in a ceremony to be held on Tuesday, May 19, at the LIGO Hanford facility in Richland, Washington.
LIGO was designed and is operated by Caltech and MIT, with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Advanced LIGO, funded by the NSF with important contributions from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Max Planck Society of Germany, and the Australian Research Council (ARC), is now being brought online, with the first searches for gravitational waves planned for the fall of 2015.

A large step closer to the first direct detection of gravitational waves

On May 19, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) will dedicate their second-generation gravitational-wave detectors (aLIGO) in a ceremony at the Hanford detector site. Researchers from the British-German GEO project, have made significant contributions in several key areas of high precision measurement required for detecting elusive gravitational waves.

May 19th 2015

Albert Einstein Institute researchers make key contributions to advanced LIGO gravitational-wave detectors

On May 19, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) will dedicate their second-generation gravitational-wave detectors (aLIGO) in a ceremony at the Hanford detector site. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) in Hannover and Potsdam, Germany, have made significant contributions in several key areas: custom-made high-power laser systems required for the high-precision measurements, efficient data analysis methods running on powerful computer clusters, and accurate waveform models to detect gravitational waves and extract astrophysical information. The AEI is a leading partner in the international gravitational-wave science community, and its researchers keep pushing the boundaries of science on the way to the first direct detection of gravitational waves.

May 4th 2015

The assembly of the LISA Pathfinder satellite is on track for the launch on top of a Vega rocket in late September. Now, the scientific mission payload and its support structure have been fully assembled at Airbus Defence & Space in Friedrichshafen, Germany. After some final tests, it will soon be ready to be joined with the LISA Pathfinder satellite.

From the 6th Issue:

Detector Commissioning: Control Room Days and Nights
At LIGO Hanford, the major part of Advanced LIGO H1 installation reached completion in August 2014. Full resonance of the detector first occurred on December 3, 2014. The commissioning team entered 2015 with the goal of moving H1 forward as rapidly as possible in sensitivity and robust performance. It’s a winding road.

The 100th anniversary of Einstein's field equations

November 30 – December 2, 2015 | Harnack House Berlin

The year 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein's field equations. To celebrate this event, the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (or Albert Einstein Institute) will host a conference during the week of November 30, 2015, exactly one hundred years after the publication of Einstein's paper. The conference will take place in the recently renovated Harnack House in Berlin, where Albert Einstein regularly lectured between 1915 and 1931.

October 06th 2014

For almost 20 years, Prof. Bernard F. Schutz has played a key role in the international success of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics. His tenure as a Director of the institute has now come to an end, but this certainly does not equate to retirement. He will remain associated with his Institute as an Emeritus Director, and at the same time take up a part-time professorship at Cardiff University.  “I will be able to dedicate myself completely to research, the Open Access movement and to the Data Innovation Institute, which has recently been founded at Cardiff University”, says Prof. Schutz, describing his plans for the future.

From the 5th issue

Major milestone: First full lock achieved!
After many years of planning, design, assembly and installation, Advanced LIGO is finally entering integrated testing, where all the subsystems have to be made to work together. This process can be separated into two phases: First, the systems that automatically bring the detector to its operating point and keep it there must be made to work – this is called “locking.” Secondly, we must achieve low noise readout of the differential arm strain, to allow “science mode” data collection.

August 05th 2014

This report is a survey over the scientific activities of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in the years 2010-2012. In the years since its foundation in 1995, the institute has established itself as one of the world's leading centers of gravitational physics, and is unique in the breadth and depth of its approaches to the subject.

The report is available here.


From the fourth issue:

Installation of the Advanced LIGO detector at LIGO Livingston History of Advanced LIGO Coating Research Looking to the Future: LIGO and Virgo in 2020 Starting Right: Building an LSC clean lab from the ground up On the life and death of simulation codes Community activities: Checking in with LIGO

..and news on people, prizes, conferences and publications from the field of gravitational wave research!

May 16th, 2014

First steps towards gravitational wave detection in space

Direct detection of gravitational waves in space requires some completely new technologies. ESA created the LISA Pathfinder mission to develop and prove the technologies that cannot be verified on the ground. From May 20 – 25, a LISA Pathfinder model will be displayed for the first time in the Space Pavilion (Hall 4) of the ILA Berlin Air Show 2014. LISA Pathfinder will be launched in 2015 and pave the way for the future space-based gravitational-wave observatory eLISA.

May 8th, 2014

New Emmy Noether group for outstanding researcher

The astrophysicist Holger Pletsch, leader of an independent research group at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) and the Institute for Gravitational Physics at Leibniz Universität Hannover, develops efficient methods for the discovery of unknown gravitational-wave and gamma-ray pulsars. Starting in April 2014, his excellent research is supported by the Emmy Noether program of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) with a total of one million Euros for a duration of five years.

January 16th 2014

The US-Italian theoretical physicist will succeed Prof. Bernard F. Schutz in September 2014.

This year will see a change in directors at the Albert Einstein Institute: founding director Prof. Bernard F. Schutz will retire after 19 years of research work at the AEI. Prof. Alessandra Buonanno, the candidate of choice of the AEI directors for his succession, is a physics professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. She will move later this year from the USA to Potsdam. Her arrival will further strengthen the Institute's leadership role in worldwide research in gravitational wave detection and black holes.

28th November 2013

ESA decides on next Large Mission Concepts

The Gravitational Universe will be one of the two science themes to be explored by ESA's next two Large (L-class) missions – this was decided today by ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC).

The suggested mission to probe the Gravitational Universe is the evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA). It will study the universe in a unique way – completely differently from any other space observatory – by detecting gravitational waves. Observations of gravitational waves in space will answer key scientific questions about the astrophysics of the cosmic dawn and the physics and evolution of the universe. According to ESA's decision, eLISA will be the third L-class mission, following JUICE and Athena+.

Einstein@Home volunteers find four cosmic lighthouses in data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

The combination of globally distributed computing power and innovative analysis methods proves to be a recipe for success in the search for new pulsars. Scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Gravitational Physics and Radio Astronomy together with international colleagues have now discovered four gamma-ray pulsars in data from the Fermi space telescope. The breakthrough came using the distributed computing project Einstein@Home, which connects more than 200,000 computers from 40,000 participants around the world to a global supercomputer. The discoveries include volunteers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the USA.

Prof Bernard Schutz

Listen to the Music of the Spheres!

Learn about how we can listen to the universe – Prof. Bernard Schutz, director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), Potsdam, Germany, talks about “The Music of the Spheres” in a Multimedia lecture on gravitational waves coming from the most powerful events taking place in the universe.

A new approach to the unification of General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Theory

Present-day physics cannot describe what happened in the Big Bang. Quantum theory and the theory of relativity fail in this almost infinitely dense and hot primal state of the universe. Only an all-encompassing theory of quantum gravity which unifies these two fundamental pillars of physics could provide an insight into how the universe began. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Golm/Potsdam and the Perimeter Institute in Canada have made an important discovery along this route.

30th August 2013, Hannover, Germany

Optical bench integrated into the core assembly

LISA Pathfinder space mission reached another important milestone: Its heart, the optical bench, was now further integrated into the core assembly of the satellite. Dr Christian Killow (Scottish Universities Physics Alliance Advanced Fellow) said, “It is rewarding to see CAD models turning into real hardware!”

29th August 2013, Hannover, Bonn, Germany

Einstein@Home discovers 24 new pulsars in archival data

The combined computing power of 200,000 private PCs helps astronomers take an inventory of the Milky Way. The Einstein@Home project connects home and office PCs of volunteers from around the world to a global supercomputer. Using this computer cloud, an international team lead by scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Gravitational Physics and for Radio Astronomy analysed archival data from the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope in Australia. Using new search methods, the global computer network discovered 24 pulsars – extraordinary stellar remnants with extreme physical properties.

4th-5th July 2013, Potsdam, Germany

On 4-5 July 2013, the Albert Einstein Institute hosted a meeting to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Kerr metric.

Speakers included Roy Kerr and Reinhard Genzel.

The one and one-half day meeting surveyed the importance of the Kerr metric for modern physics and astronomy and the history of the black hole concept.

Postam, 26. July 2013

Numerical simulations by AEI scientists show for the first time the occurrence of an instability in the interior of neutron stars that can lead to gigantic magnetic fields, possibly triggering dramatic explosions in the Universe

An ultra-dense ("hypermassive") neutron star is formed when two neutron stars in a binary system finally merge. Its short life ends with the catastrophic collapse to a black hole, possibly powering a short gamma-ray burst, one of the brightest explosions observed in the universe.

Armonk, NY & Hannover, Germany, 22 July 2013

Want to help cure disease or discover new stars? Now you can, using your smartphone

Einstein@Home & IBM's World Community Grid efforts among first to enable Android devices to contribute to cutting-edge research

Android users can now boast of another capability on their smartphones and tablets: fighting AIDS and discovering new stars.

July 10th 2013

Prof. Bernard Schutz selected Fellow of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation

The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute / AEI) is pleased about a special distinction: AEI director Prof. Bernard Schutz will be made a Fellow of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation (ISGRG).

With this selection the Society recognizes his:

  • groundbreaking scientific work: Bernard Schutz has developed important principles for the observation of the universe with gravitational waves. His main focus among astrophysical objects has been the study of unstable rotating, relativistic stars;
  • his leading role in the development of both earth-based and space-based gravitational wave observatories;
  • as well as his innovations in the field of scientific publication: Bernard F. Schutz is initiator and editor of the Open Access Online Journal www.livingreviews.org which allows all scientists an independent and free access to scientific papers. Today, Schutz is one of the leading international experts developing new and forward-looking approaches for scientific publication.

June 23rd 2013

Physicists from the Max Planck Society and Leibniz Universität Hannover develop a new concept to improve the sensitivity of gravitational-wave detectors

Laser interferometers detect tiny distance changes with high precision. Stray light reduces and limits the measurement accuracy of these instruments. Researchers at the Albert Einstein Institute in Hannover have now shown for the first time how to discriminate between measurement signal and stray light using lasers with tailored quantum properties. The novel measurement concept circumvents the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and could enhance the precision of gravitational-wave detectors like GEO600 or the closely cooperating Advanced LIGO (aLIGO) detectors in the USA.

June 4th, 2013

The heart of space mission LISA Pathfinder was successfully tested

The optical bench of the LISA Pathfinder (LPF) mission passed with flying colours extensive testing at the Institute for Gravitational Research (IGR) at the University of Glasgow. IGR scientists assured that the high-precision measurement system is ready to survive tremendous forces up to 35 g (35 times the gravitational acceleration on Earth) during rocket launch. “With the successful tests we reached an important milestone. The sophisticated laser interferometer works very well and is ready for its job in space.

Potsdam, April 03rd, 2013

Numerical calculations by scientists at the AEI give an initial insight into the relativistic properties of this mysterious process

The American Nobel Prize Laureate for Physics Richard Feynman once described turbulence as “the most important unsolved problem of classical physics”, because a description of the phenomenon from first principles does not exist. This is still regarded as one of the six most important problems in mathematics today.

4th-5th July 2013, Potsdam, Germany

The Albert Einstein Institute will host a short meeting to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Kerr metric. The meeting will take place 4-5 July 2013, immediately before the GR 20 - Amaldi conference in Warsaw, which begins on July 7. This makes it convenient for participants in the Warsaw meeting also to attend the Kerr commemoration.

Speakers will include Roy Kerr and Reinhard Genzel.

Hannover, October 25, 2012

Max Planck scientists discover record-breaking millisecond pulsar with new analysis method

Pulsars are the compact remnants from explosions of massive stars. Some of them spin around their own axis hundreds of times per second, emitting beams of radiation into space. Until now, they could only be found through their pulsed radio emissions. Now, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in Hanover assisted by the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy have discovered a millisecond pulsar solely via its pulsed gamma radiation. A new data analysis method developed by the AEI was crucial for the success. The pulsar is accompanied by an unusual sub-stellar partner, which it is vaporizing, hence the name “black widow”.

Journalist Robin McKie from the UK newspaper The Observer has won the special award for excellence of the first European Journalism Prize for his piece "Hunting ripples in the fabric of space".

The article on British involvement in the search for gravitational waves was first published in the Discover Physics section of the printed version of The Observer.

Read his article here:

12. September 2012

LIGO magazine will regularly provide news from international gravitational wave research

The articles featured in the first issue include:

The evolution of Advanced LIGO
Starting in late 2007 and ending in 2015, the Advanced LIGO (aLIGO) Project will deliver detectors which will have locked for several hours and will be capable, after post-Project tuning, of a factor of 10 improvement in sensitivity over initial LIGO.

Monolithic Suspensions: From the Lab to Advanced LIGO
At the heart of each Advanced LIGO (aLIGO) detector are four large mirrors – test masses – made of fused silica, two in each arm of the interferometer.

Hanover, 24th July 2012

Max Planck scientists discover a young and energetic neutron star with unusually irregular rotation

Pulsars are superlative cosmic beacons. These compact neutron stars rotate about their axes many times per second, emitting radio waves and gamma radiation into space.  Using ingenious data analysis methods, researchers from the Max Planck Institutes for Gravitational Physics and for Radio Astronomy, in an international collaboration, dug a very special gamma-ray pulsar out of data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

Cape Town, 27. July 2012

How psychological approaches pay off in terms of human, social and financial capital
Conclusions of the International Congress for Psychology 2012 "Serving the humanity" that ends today in Cape Town

Psychology can make this world a better place. This is one of the conclusions out of five days of meetings, talks, presentations and discussions of about 6000 participants at the International Congress of Psychology (ICP) 2012 in Cape Town South Africa. "To meet the challenges of the changes we are witnessing across the world, be it due to scientific advances, or financial catastrophes, to political transformation, or climate change and ecological fragility, we have to come together more than ever before." said Rainer K.

Cape Town, 20th July 2012

International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) honors outstanding scientists

The President of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS), Professor Rainer K. Silbereisen and Past-President Professor J. Bruce Overmier, today revealed the names of five scientists who will receive the IUPsyS awards for the year 2012. The five awards, which honor outstanding achievements at the frontiers of science and meritorious commitment to humanity, are presented every four years. The awards embody the high priority IUPsyS places on developing, representing and advancing Psychology as a basic and applied science.

Paris, 25. May 2012

European gravitational wave community strengthens its space collaboration

During the 9th international LISA Symposium, held May 21 – 25 in Paris, the international LISA* community analyzed the new situation after ESA´s decision to choose JUICE for Europe´s next large space science mission. As the eLISA** mission, despite not being selected, was reported to have been unanimously ranked first by ESA´s scientific review committee in terms of scientific interest, strategic value for science and strategic value for the projects in Europe, the community is in good spirits: this is the first time that any space agency committee has ranked a gravitational wave observatory as the agency´s highest scientific priority. In order to prepare a strongest possible bid for the next launch opportunity the community has decided to continue its collaboration as the self-funded and independent eLISA consortium.

An eLisa spacecraft

"ESA´s decision to select JUICE as the next large science mission does not come unexpectedly after all the discussions of the last few weeks. But we are not dispirited because the scientific review committee has voted us the unanimous number one in Scientific Value!

Potsdam/Hannover, 18th January 2012

eLISA/NGO is a new concept for observing gravitational waves in space.

eLISA/NGO (evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna/New Gravitational Wave Observatory) will add a new sense to our perception of the Universe - for the first time we will observe e.g. Black holes and Neutron stars directly and gain unique information about the behaviour, structure and early history of the Universe.

05. August 2011

Scientists operating Europe’s gravitational wave observatories have combined efforts this summer to search for gravitational waves.

This groundbreaking research is being taken forward in Europe while similar US-based detectors undergo major upgrade work.

Cataclysmic cosmic events such as supernovae, colliding neutron stars and black holes, as well as more familiar objects such as rotating neutron stars (pulsars) are expected to emit gravitational waves – oscillations in the fabric of space-time predicted by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. The detection of such waves would revolutionise our understanding of the Universe.

Potsdam, Germany, 28 June 2011

The University of Glasgow will bestow the title of Honorary Doctor of Science on Professor Bernard Schutz on 30 June 2011 in recognition of his vital and internationally recognised contributions to theoretical astrophysics

Professor Bernard Schutz has played a major part in developing fruitful collaborations between theoretical and experimental astrophysicists worldwide, particularly in the field of gravitational wave detection.

Cascina, 20. May 2011

Plans shape up for a revolutionary new observatory to explore black holes and the Big Bang

Scientists present their design for Einstein Telescope: Europe’s next-generation detector that will ‘see’ the Universe in gravitational waves A new era in astronomy will come a step closer when scientists from across Europe present their design study today for an advanced observatory capable of making precision measurements of gravitational waves – minute ripples in the fabric of spacetime – predicted to emanate from cosmic catastrophes such as merging black holes and collapsing stars and supernovae. It also offers the potential to probe the earliest moments of the Universe just after the Big Bang, which are currently inaccessible.

Hannover, 6. April 2011

The neutron star and its companion could prove helpful in testing the general theory of relativity

Neutron stars are quite unique: the material they are made of is packed much more densely than conventional matter. They rotate extremely fast about their own axis, emitting radiation in the process, so they are often visible as pulsars in the radio spectrum. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hanover, working as part of the international PALFA Collaboration, and with the help of participants in the Einstein@Home project, have now discovered a pulsar accompanied by a white dwarf – a burnt-out star. The researchers want to weigh the pair, using what is known as the Shapiro effect. (Astrophysical Journal Letters, 732/1 L1)

Hannover, 1st March 2011

Second discovery with Einstein@Home: J1952+2630 - a neutron star with a binary companion

Neutron stars are exotic objects. They consist of material that is much denser than normal matter; at similar densities the entire mass of the earth would form a ball about 260 m in diameter. Neutron stars spin quickly, sending out radiation like a lighthouse. They are most often visible as radio pulsars.

Potsdam, 10. January 2011

AEI unveils new methods for simulating neutron stars merging

How neutron stars merge - first accurate calculation of the last orbits of binary systems of neutron stars. AEI scientists described for the first time new numerical methods for the calculation of gravitational wave signals.

An article describing an important progress in modelling the last orbits of binary systems of neutron stars has been recently published in Physical Review Letters

Hannover, 23. September 2010

The test mission for the gravitational wave detector in space LISA has reached an important milestone after a rigorous review of the whole mission

Gravitational waves tell of star explosions, the collision of black holes and even the Big Bang itself. The space-based gravitational wave detector LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) will observe the gravitational waves from coalescing binary black holes among other sources, beginning its search for the elusive signals in 2020. Working in conjunction with other astronomical methods and gravitational wave observatories on Earth, we will then be able to observe the unknown and uncharted – the so-called "Dark Side of the Universe".

Hannover & Pasadena, 16 August 2010

LISA one of NASA’s major space missions

HANNOVER/Germany & PASADENA, Calif. — The US National Research Council (NRC) has strongly recommended the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) as one of NASA's next two major space missions, to start in 2016 in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). LISA will study the universe in a manner different from any other space observatory, by observing gravitational waves. The recommendation was announced today in a press conference at the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, D.C.

Hannover, 12. August 2010

Einstein@Home ‘citizen scientists’ in the U.S.A. and Germany discover a new pulsar in Arecibo telescope data

(Science Express, Aug. 12, 2010.) Idle computers are the astronomers’ playground: Three citizen scientists – a German and an American couple – have discovered a new radio pulsar hidden in data gathered by the Arecibo Observatory. This is the first deep-space discovery by Einstein@Home, which uses donated time from the home and office computers of 250,000 volunteers from 192 different countries. (Science Express, Aug. 12, 2010.)

Potsdam, 16. July 2010

Living Reviews in Relativity world-wide number two in its category

The open access physics journal Living Reviews in Relativity, published by the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Potsdam, has received its first impact factor of 10.600 in the 2009 Journal Citation Reports released by Thomson Reuters on June 17, 2010. The unique review journal already ranks second worldwide in the category Physics, Particles & Fields.

Paris, 8 Jan 2010

The International Year of Astronomy 2009: The Largest Science Education and Public Outreach Event in History

8 January 2010, Paris: As the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) comes to a close, the true scope of the venture is becoming clear. The final count of countries involved stands at 148, a staggering number that confirms that the IYA2009 network is the largest ever in science. Activities and events from these participating nations paint a picture of professional and amateur astronomers bringing the Universe down to Earth through countless projects, opening the eyes of the public to the wonders above.