Welcome to the home page of ENIGMA, a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg led by Joseph F. Hennawi. We are jointly funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Sofja Kovalevskaja Prize and the Max Planck Society Independent Research Group program, and thank both organizations for their generous support.

There is no such thing as empty space. Indeed, the most barren regions of the Universe are the vast expanses between the galaxies, known as the intergalactic medium. Averaging just one lonely atom per cubic meter, this primordial gas left over from the Big Bang encodes fundamental information about our Universe’s history. Our group analyzes data from distant astronomical objects collected with the largest telescopes and most powerful instruments in the world. By comparing these observations to supercomputer simulations of cosmic evolution, we try to answer questions about the history of the Universe and shed light on how galaxies, and ultimately stars and planets, formed.

Our research interests include:

  • Quasar absorption line techniques
  • The Lyman alpha forest and thermal history of the intergalactic medium
  • High-redshift galaxies and active galactic nuclei
  • The circumgalactic media of galaxies
  • The properties and energetics of galactic outflows and inflows
  • Cosmic reionization events
  • Cosmological simulations of the intergalactic medium and galaxy formation
  • Mining large astronomical surveys

Image Credit: Cen & Ostriker

MPG Humboldt Foundation MPIA