Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and Institute for Astrophysics Goettingen IMPRS Partner Institutes

Partner institutions

Detailed presentation of the research expertise and faculty of the academic and research institutions participating in the Solar System School

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 and Geophysics, Geosciences Center). 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 & Geophysics and the Geoscience Center 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.

The 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, Solar Orbiter, Sunrise, Cluster, Rosetta, JUICE and PLATO 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. T. Kleine, Prof. L. Gizon and Prof. S. K. Solanki) several 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, PD DR. Rene Heller, PD Dr. Sandra Jeffers, Dr. N. Krivova, Dr. H. Krüger, Prof. H. Peter, Dr. X. Zhu). 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 Astrophysics and Geophysics, University of Göttingen

The Institute for Astrophysics and Geophysics, formerly the University Observatory Göttingen, has a 250 years long tradition as an astronomical institute. The current scientific research areas cover the fields geophysics, 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.

Research and teaching in 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.

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. L. Gizon, Prof. J. Niemeyer, Prof. A. Reiners, Prof. A. Tilgner.

Geoscience Center, University of Göttingen

Geobiologie, Geochemistry & Isotope Geology

Official Partner Institutions

Further collaborating institutes in Göttingen

Geobiology - Geoscience Centre, University of Göttingen

Isotope Geology Division - Geoscience Center, University of Göttingen

Institute of Numerical and Applied Mathematics, University of Göttingen

Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization Göttingen

Further collaborating universities

  • Technische Universität Braunschweig
  • Technische Universität Clausthal
  • Universität Hannover
  • Technische Universität Berlin
  • Universität Rostock
  • Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
  • Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Universität Bielefeld
  • Universität zu Köln
  • Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
  • ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Universität Bern, Switzerland
  • Sorbonne Université, France
  • Université de Paris, France
  • Université de Nice - Sophia Antipolis, France
  • Université de Toulouse, France
  • Université de Liège, Belgium
  • University of Kent, UK
  • University College London, UK
  • Open University, UK
  • National Institute For Space Research, Brazil
  • Space Research Institute, Moscow
  • National Central University, Taiwan
  • Peking University Beijing, China
  • CAS Beijing, China
  • CAS Nanjing, China
  • Shanghai, China
  • Hefei, China
  • University of Tokyo, Japan

Official partner from 2002-2013

TU Braunschweig
The Technical University Braunschweig was a founding partner of the Solar System School. Faculty members at the Institute for Geophysics and extraterrestrial Physics, the Institute for Theoretical Physics, and the Institute for Computer and Communication Network Engineering continue to co-supervise a significant fraction of PhD projects in the IMPRS.

Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics, TU Braunschweig

Institute for Theoretical Physics, TU Braunschweig

Institute of Computer and Network Engineering, TU Braunschweig

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