The school is hosted by the Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen and jointly run with its partner institutes at the University of Göttingen (Institute for Astrophysics, Institute for Geophysics). These institutes are uniquely positioned in the fields of Solar system physics with excellent facilities, internationally renowned researchers and experienced teachers.
The Solar System School is a joint effort of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Institute for Astrophysics and the Institute for Geophysics of the University of Göttingen. The presence of considerable theoretical expertise, outstanding data from space- and ground-based programs, as well as the involvement of the institutes in the development of space missions and ground-based observatories make the MPS and the partner university institutes the natural location for a school on Solar system science.
The school is implemented as a PhD programme under the roof of the Georg-August University School of Science (GAUSS).
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research Göttingen
Subjects of investigation are the Sun, its atmosphere and the interplanetary medium, the surfaces, atmospheres, ionospheres and magnetospheres of the planets, their rings and moons, comets and asteroids. The solar corona is observed with optical instruments in space over the spectral range from the visible to soft X-rays. Its plasma properties are determined by spectroscopic methods and by in-situ observations in interplanetary space. The lower solar atmosphere is investigated with spectropolarimetric techniques, both from ground and space. The main aim is to study the Sun's magnetic field and its fundamental role in driving a large number of solar phenomena, many of which constitute the cause of space weather affecting the near-Earth space environment or are suspected drivers of global climate variations.
The planets and their moons, asteroids and comets are investigated with space-borne and ground-based imaging techniques and with in-situ measurements. Research topics comprise the interior structure and dynamics of planets and small bodies, the composition and evolution of their surfaces and atmospheres and the planetary plasma environment. The basic goal is to understand the origin and evolution of the solar system.
Since 2011 the new MPS department and university group "Solar and Stellar Interiors" is working towards an understanding of the structure, dynamics, activity, and evolution of the Sun and stars. Techniques of local helioseismology are used to image 3D flow velocities and subsurface heterogeneities in the solar convection zone in order to study subsurface convection and the structure and emergence of active regions and sunspots. The German Data Center for SDO, a unique facility in Europe, stores and processes the observations of helioseismic waves from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. In parallel, efforts are made to apply seismological investigations to distant stars using data from the CoRoT and Kepler satellites.
The institute plays or has played a leading role in a large number of space missions, with Helios, Giotto, Ulysses, SOHO, Cluster and Rosetta being prominent examples, and operates or has a stake in various ground-based observatories. In the course of this involvement the institute has built up a unique know-how in the design, construction, qualification, and operation of a wide variety of specialized instruments. These instruments are or will be providing high-quality data, which can serve as the basis for many PhD theses. There is also a strong background in theoretical plasma physics at the institute, which is now being augmented by a strong emphasis on numerical simulations applied to geophysics, planetary science and solar and stellar physics. A state of the art multiprocessor computer system allows demanding numerical calculations to be performed.
Besides the directors (Prof. U. Christensen, Prof. L. Gizon and Prof. S. K. Solanki) ten habilitated or appointed (through a procedure similar to that for university professors) scientists with long-standing experience in lecturing and mentoring students participate in the Solar System School (Dr. A. Birch, Dr. H. Böhnhardt, Prof. J. Büchner, Dr. S. Haaland, Dr. S. Hekker, Dr. N. Krivova, Dr. H. Krüger, Dr. P. Lacerda, Prof. H. Peter, Prof. M. Schüssler). Furthermore, younger staff members participate with great enthusiasm. The institute thus provides opportunities for students with a wide range of scientific interests and an excellent basis for studies combining experimental and theoretical methods.
Institute for Geophysics, University of Göttingen
Research and teaching at the Institute of Geophysics concentrates on the structure and dynamics of the Earth's interior and the interior of other planets. Aside from work on seismology and electromagnetic induction, questions of the internal dynamics of solid and fluid planets are addressed by means of computer simulations augmented by laboratory experiments. This comprises convective flow in the silicate mantles and in the outer fluid shell of gas planets, the thermal evolution of terrestrial planets, MHD flow, and magnetic field generation by self-sustained dynamo action in the conducting liquid cores of planets.
Participation in the School is mainly through the group Prof. A. Tilgner, whose expertise is in geophysical fluid dynamics with large-scale numerical simulations.
Institute for Astrophysics, University of Göttingen
The Institute for Astrophysics, formerly the University Observatory Göttingen, has a 250 years long tradition as an astronomical institute. The current scientific research areas cover the fields extra-solar planets, solar physics, stellar astrophysics, galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, and cosmology.
One part of the observatory is involved in solar and stellar astrophysics on the basis of astronomical instrumentation, observation and theory, including numerical simulations. The astrophysical fields related to solar system research comprise the physics of the interior of the sun and sun-like stars, solar activity, space weather, stellar atmospheres, stellar structure, stability and evolution, pulsating stars, extra-solar planets, activity and magnetic fields in stars, brown dwarfs and planets, theoretical and numerical astrophysics, and astrophysical fluid mechanics, physics of accretions discs, late stages of stellar evolution.
Further research areas, both observational and theoretical, are extragalactic astrophysics and cosmology and include the phenomenology, kinematics and variability of Active Galactic Nuclei, X-Ray-, radio, IR-, and optical properties of AGN, the first stars and galaxies, formation of supermassive black holes, dwarf galaxies, magnetic fields in the early universe, physics of the early universe, inflation in string theory, primordial fluctuations, cosmological structure formation, and computational cosmology.
The observatory has built, within German and international consortia, the two Focal Reducer Spectrographs (FORS) and is currently involved in the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) for the ESO VLT. It operates the two robotic telescopes MONET, which are also available for general education purposes. It has been further involved in the 11-m Hobby Eberly Telescope (HET) in Texas and in its twin, the South Africa Large Telescope (SALT) and in the 1.5m solar telescope Gregor on Tenerife.
Participation in the Solar System School is through Prof. S. Dreizler, Prof. W. Glatzel, Prof. W. Kollatschny, Prof. J. Niemeyer, Prof. A. Reiners.