Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS)

The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) takes part in IMPRS-HD with the group working on Theoretical Astrophysics, on the Physics of Stellar Objects, and on  High-Energy Astrophysics and Cosmology.

The Theoretical Astrophysics Group at HITS has been established 2010 and is led by Prof. Volker Springel of Heidelberg University the group. Numerical simulations of cosmic structure formation, as carried out in the Theoretical Astrophysics (TAP) group , are one of the best tools for understanding our quite strange Universe, in which most of the material consists of unknown "Dark Matter", and a mysterious "Dark Energy" field drives an accelerated expansion of space. The work focuses on the formation and evolution of galaxies, supermassive black holes, stars, and planets. A major goal of the group's research is to unlock the power of modern high-performance supercomputers for basic research in theoretical astrophysics. To this end, both the state-of-the art computational facilities at HITS and supercomputers in Germany and across Europe are employed.

The High-Energy Astrophysics and Cosmology Group at HITS has been established 2015 and is led by PD Dr. Christoph Pfrommer. The pressure of the interstellar medium, magnetic fields and cosmic rays in the Milky Way are all balancing each other: is this just a coincidence or perhaps a clue that points us in the direction of important physical processes that so far have been mostly neglected? If so, are cosmic rays and magnetic fields even playing a decisive role that helps us to understand the formation and evolution of galaxies and galaxy clusters (one example of a simulated galaxy cluster is shown in the image)? And finally, what is the impact of accreting super-massive black holes on the local environment as well as globally for large-scale cosmological structures? In the High-Energy Astrophysics and Cosmology (HAC) group, we are tackling these challenging problems with a combination of paper-and-pencil theory and advanced simulation techniques. The goal is twofold: 1. to improve our understanding of the formation of galaxies and clusters and 2. to advance our knowledge of the underlying plasma physical processes of cosmic ray transport. To this end, we complement our theoretical efforts with an observational program on the non-thermal emission of galaxies and clusters, taking advantage of new capabilities at radio to gamma-ray wavelengths.

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