Astrophysics is science of the universe across a huge spectrum on linear scales. Bonn stands for theoretical but also experimental astrophysics from the Big Bang to the solar system. 

Euqipped with computer and telescope 

The Argelander Institute für Astronomie (AIfA) covers the development of the entire observable universe in research and teaching. It is the electromagnetic radiation that reveals to us the details of the smallest and also the largest structures in the universe. Therefore, we observe it from the X-ray to the long-wavelength radio range. Gravitational lenses serve us as natural telescopes to discover even the faintest and farest galaxies in the universe. Using numerical methods, we trace the evolution of individual stars to the largest structures in the universe from observations. Stars do not form in isolation, but to hundreds and thousands together as members of stellar clusters in the very centers of molecular clouds. With telescopes across all continents of the Earth, as well as with airborne and satellite observatories, we observe all this in the greatest detail also the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. 

Forschungsprofil Astro
© ESA–S. Corvaja

Research groups in Astronomy and Astrohysics


Astronomical research today comprises the combination of astronomical observations and digital scientific data analyses. The observations tell us about the physical conditions of stars and galaxies in the early days of the universe and we can compare this to the situation today. From giant radio galaxies, the largest objects in the universe, to the smallest structures, the formation of planets around distant stars, observatories provide unique insights into our universe on all linear scales. 


Important observatories for Bonn's astrophysics

  • Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA): The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) reveals the smallest structures of star-forming regions in distant galaxies. 64 of these telescopes are located in one of the driest places on Earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile, at an altitude of about 5500 meters. In this remote location the conditions are ideal for receiving sub-mm radio waves from the cosmos. The ALMA Region Science Center at AIfA trains scientists from all over Europe here in Bonn to make the best use of the ALMA telescope. 
  • The Astropeiler near Bad Münstereifel was the first radio telescope that was allowed to be built in Germany after the Second World War. With a mirror diameter of 25 m it was one of the two largest radio telescopes of its time. It is the core of radio astronomy in Germany. The University of Bonn operated the telescope until the mid-1990s. Today, it is constantly improved by dedicated amateur radio astronomers and is used by students of the University of Bonn as an observing instrument in their master's internship. 
  • The Fred Young Submillimeter Telescope (FYST) will be a 6-meter diameter telescope designed to operate at submillimeter and millimeter wavelengths, located at an exceptional site 5600 meters above sea level on Cerro Chajnantor overlooking the ALMA facility. FYST's novel optical design will map the sky very quickly and efficiently. Together with the University of Cologne, the Argelander Institute for Astronomy is involved in the realization of this unique observatory. 
  • The cosmic web forms the largest coherent structures in the universe. Its structure comprises information about the interaction of dark matter and dark energy. At AIfA, several groups are investigating this complex interplay in detail: via supernovae, via the weak gravitational lensing effect, and studies in the X-ray range using the eRosita satellite. The reticular structure shown here, whose brightest regions mark the positions of the galaxy clusters, is studied in detail at AIfA using complex numerical methods. 
  • The Euclid telescope will test our understanding of the interplay between dark energy and dark matter starting in 2023. Its mirror system will allow simultaneous observation in visible and near-infrared regime. The shape of the galaxies will be measured. The galaxy shape changes due to the amount of dark matter that is between the observer and the galaxy. From Euclid's measurements, a 3-D image of the visible universe can be derived. AIfA is home to a Euclid Data Center that coordinates the use of the data. 
  • The Effelsberg 100-m telescope celebrated its 50th birthday in 2021. To date, it is one of the most sensitive and largest fully steerable radio telescopes in the world. It is located in a valley near Bad Münstereifel, about 50 km from Bonn. The Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy operates the telescope. The Max Planck Institute was founded by professors from the University of Bonn in the 1970s. Students of the University of Bonn can also do their bachelor, master and doctoral theses, under the supervision of AIfA professors, at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.
  • SOFIA is an acronym for stratospheric observatory for infrared astronomy. SOFIA enables the observation of such high frequencies, at a flight altitude of about 14 kilometers, which otherwise can only be reached by satellite observatories. However, since these are sometimes planned decades in advance, their technology is already outdated at the time of their launch. SOFIA is quite different, allowing researchers to use state-of-the-art technology and make measurements that will not be possible with satellites for another 10 to 20 years. Students can use SOFIA's data for their research as part of their master's and doctoral theses. 


Avatar Kerp

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Juergen Kerp

Radio- and X-Ray Astronomy


Auf dem Hügel 71

53121 Bonn

Argelander Institute for Astronomy

Wird geladen