The institute was founded in 1963 as a sub-institute
of the Max-Planck-Institut für Physik und Astrophysik
and established as an independent institute in 1991.
Its main research topics are astronomical observations
in spectral regions (such as Far-Infrared, X-ray and Gamma-ray) which
are only accessible from space because of the absorbing effects of the
Earth's atmosphere, as well as in-situ measurements in near-Earth
space investigating the collisionless interaction of cosmic plasmas.
Scientific work is done in four major research areas that are
supervised by one of the directors, respectively:
Within these areas scientists lead individual experiments and research
projects organised in about 25 project teams. The research topics
range from the physics of cosmic plasmas and of stars to the
physics and chemistry of interstellar matter, from star
formation and nucleosynthesis to extragalactic astrophysics
- optical and interpretative astronomy (Bender),
- infrared and sub-millimeter/millimeter astronomy (Genzel),
- high-energy astronomy (N.N.), and
- theory and complex plasmas (Morfill).
The theory division of the institute covers all the research topics.
Especially the results in the area of ``analysis of complex systems''
are developed into applications in medicine (early diagnostics of skin
cancer, tumours, prenatal surveillance), engineering (manufactoring
processes and quality control), and pharmacology (drug testing and
More detailed information on the institute and its research areas are
available on the institute web pages at
Although the general language is German, English speaking personnel
is available throughout the institute!
Tour through the institute
(talks, movies, exhibitions, maps;
brochure in German)
Talks (in German)
Program for Kids
Open House on Campus