Extragalactic Astronomy Group
We are the Extragalactic Astronomy Research Group at the University Observatory Munich (USM) led by Prof. Ralf Bender and senior staff Dr. Ulrich Hopp, Dr. Stella Seitz, and Dr. Arno Riffeser. We form a joint group with the Optical and Interpretative Astronomy Group (OPINAS) of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) and we are closely collaborating with the Physical Cosmology Group of Prof. Jochen Weller.
Our group investigates the structure and evolution of galaxies and their distribution in space and time. We employ imaging and spectroscopy at optical and infrared wavelengths to study their stellar populations, their internal dynamics, and mass distributions. We also use the gravitational lens effect to analyse the nature of Dark Matter in and around galaxies and galaxy clusters. The large-scale distribution of galaxies and gravitational lensing also provide direct insight into the properties of Dark Energy. In the nearby universe, we search for extrasolar planets and explore their properties with transits and radial velocities.
Our group also has a strong instrumentation activity. We have regularly built instruments for the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (FORS, OmegaCAM, KMOS) and we are heavily involved in the construction of the First-Light Camera MICADO for the 39m Extremely-Large-Telescope of ESO. This gives us guaranteed access to these world-leading telescopes and enables ambitious and unique observational projects in our research areas. Our group also operates the Mt. Wendelstein Observatory in the Bavarian Alps for which we build all instrumentation and which serves as a test-bed for technology development. The Wendelstein 2m telescope gives bachelor and master students easy and direct access to a modern high-technology telescope and allows them to participate in observations and instrument development early in their education. Last not least, we are also a partner in a range of projects which focus on Dark Energy Research: 10m Hobby-Eberly-Telescope in West Texas, the Dark Energy Survey (DES), the ESA EUCLID space mission, and the Rubin observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).