DZA image

Science initiative advocates German Center for Astrophysics in Lusatia

Image credit: Deutsches Zentrum für Astrophysik (DZA)

Research and technology center promises location advantages for Germany and the Saxony region

An initiative by leading scientists led by Prof. Dr. Günther Hasinger, Research Director of the European Space Agency ESA, is committed to founding the German Center for Astrophysics (DZA), which is to be located in Lusatia. The initiative, which is supported by scientists from the Max Planck Society, the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, the Helmholtz Association, including DESY, and the Technical University of Dresden, submitted their proposal for the new research center to the ideas competition “Knowledge creates perspectives for the region!” of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Free State of Saxony. The competition calls on outstanding scientists to submit proposals for the location of large research centers in order to determine the thematic focus and the exact location of two new large research centers in the Saxon Lusatia and in the central German area.

Astrophysics is "booming". The branch of science combines high-tech with the creativity of brilliant minds. Half of the Nobel Prizes in Physics in the last ten years have gone to astrophysicists. “New methods have been added to the classic methods of astronomy, the “eyes” of which receive electromagnetic radiation. For example, gravitational wave telescopes that listen like "ears" in space," says Hasinger, the project leader. "With a German Center for Astrophysics, we would absorb the impetus of this research field for Germany. We therefore propose the founding of the German Center for Astrophysics (DZA) in Lusatia, where we can combine eyes, ears and brain," says Hasinger, who is also available as the founding director of the center. The German Center for Astrophysics can shape and shape the structural change in Lusatia, create jobs in various areas and form cooperations with research centers in the Czech Republic and Poland. It would be a milestone for research and technology in the region in the middle of Europe.

The concept of the DZA rests on three pillars: First, the data streams from future large telescopes, such as the Square Kilometer Array and the Einstein Telescope, are to be bundled and processed in Saxony. They account for several times the traffic on today's Internet and require new technologies. The center is intended to tame the data tsunami and in this way also accelerate Germany's digitization. “A core task at the SKA is to extract the portion of the physically interesting data while the data is being taken and to reduce the immense amounts of data to an acceptable level. But the analysis of intermediate and end products also places high demands on the data infrastructure. There is currently no infrastructure in Germany that fully meets these requirements,” explains Hermann Hessling, chairman of the association for data-intensive radio astronomy and professor at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences.

The second pillar is to be a technology center in which, among other things, new semiconductor sensors, silicon optics and control technologies for observatories will be developed. Building on the experience and the modern environment of industry in Saxony, new companies and other high-quality jobs will be created through spin-offs. “Astronomy has repeatedly shown that it is not only a fascinating science for everyone, but also a driver of innovation. The DZA can therefore exert an enormously broad appeal in Saxony and beyond,” says Michael Kramer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and President of the Astronomical Society.

Thirdly, the location of the European gravitational wave observatory "Einstein Telescope", which is already being planned, should be examined in the granite stock of Upper Lusatia. "The granite stock offers ideal conditions, the construction of the telescope under the earth's surface would tie in with the mining tradition of the region and would be an international flagship project," explains Christian Stegmann, DESY Director for Astroparticle Physics and supporter of the DZA.

Prof. Dr. Günther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science, Head of ESAC
Prof. Dr. Michael Kramer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and President of the Astronomical Society
Prof. Dr. Christian Stegmann, Director of Astroparticle Physics, German Electron Synchrotron – DESY
Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, Scientific Director and Chairman of the Board, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics, Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang E. Nagel, Director of the Center for Information Services and High-Performance Computing, Technical University of Dresden