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Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

Research Areas

Main work areas are radio- and infrared Astronomy. Technological efforts in the institute cover then whole spectrum from radio-, over (sub)millimeter-, to infrared wavelengths. There is also an effort in theoretical astrophysics.
Exploration of the physics of stars, galaxies, and the universe as a whole in the institute concentrates particular on star formation, young stellar objects, stars in the 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 as well as the theory of star formation and active galactic nuclei.

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

  • The US-American/German Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA),
  • the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX); development and operation of a Submillimeter telescope in the Chilean Atacama desert 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,
  • the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona,
  • 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
Founded in 1966, construction of the 100-meter radio telescope in Bad Münstereifel-Effelsberg, operations starting 1972, institute building finished 1973. Institute extensions completed in 1983 and 2002. Jointly with Steward Observatory, University of Arizona development and operation of the 10-meter submillimeter telescope (Heinrich-Hertz-Telescope). In 2001 start of the APEX project.

International Collaborations (selection)

  • Institute for Radioastronomy at Millimeter Wavelengths (IRAM), a joint operation of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and the Spanish Instituto Geographico Nacional (IGN)
  • The Submillimeter Telescope Observatory (SMTO) operating the Heinrich-Hertz-Telescope, in collaboration with the University of Arizona (SMTO)
  • European VLBI Network (EVN) with membership from various European nations
  • Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)
  • Coordinated Millimeter VLBI Array (CMVA), a collaboration of several institutions in Europe and the US
  • APEX, a collaboration with the Ruhr-University of Bochum, the Onsala Space Observatory (Sweden), and the European Southern Observatory (ESO)


Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

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