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  Kippenhahn Prize 2011

Rudolph Kippenhahn Prize for Rainer Moll

Continuing a young but already well-established tradition at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, the former MPA director Rudolph Kippenhahn came to the Institute at the end of May to personally award this year’s Kippenhahn Prize to Rainer Moll, a former MPA student who is now at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. The Kippenhahn prize recognises the best scientific paper written by a student at the MPA and Moll received it for his paper ”Large jets from small-scale magnetic fields“, which appeared in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics in 2010.

Image: Former MPA-director Rudolf Kippenhahn presented Rainer Moll with the prize certificate.
© H.-A. Arnolds, MPA

In his paper, Moll presents a numerical study of magnetic cores rotating inside a non-magnetic stellar envelope, investigating under what conditions a magnetically powered jet is formed that can break through the envelope. As the processes involved are very complex and vary over a wide range of scales, Moll had to invent a new method for his 3-dimensional, magneto-hydrodynamic simulations: In a numerical grid, with which the flow can be followed over a factor of 1000 in distance, it is possible to cover the full development of the unsteady flow, including the strong magnetically driven instabilities evolving inside it. The laudation particularly recognised Moll’s inventiveness in problem definition, and in developing methods for visualization and physical interpretation of the complex 3-dimensional results.

While Rudolph Kippenhahn remembered that the question about quasars with a jet perpendicular to the disk started when he was ”still in business“ — he was MPA director from 1975 to 1991 — the first explanations did not include anything about magnetic fields, and he congratulated Moll for his study leading to ”one of the first reasonable explanations“. However, Kippenhahn also said that because of recent events, he looked more carefully at this paper. Allowing for the fact that it is difficult in astronomy to copy from a newspaper and get a PhD, he told Moll that even if it turned out that he had copied from the Süddeutsche Zeitung, he could keep his prize, as this was not part of the formal requirements.

Original publication:
”Large jets from small-scale magnetic fields“, R. Moll, A&A 512, A5 (2010)

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last modified: 2011-6-22