Torsten Enßlin

Cosmologist, Astrophysicist, Scientist

I am a scientist at the Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik (MPA), Garching (near Munich), and lecturer at the Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich in Germany. I am interested in Information Theory, especially Information Field Theory (IFT), Cosmology and High Energy Astrophysics.

Recent Research Highlights

The embarrassment of false predictions -
How to best communicate probabilities?

Complex predictions such as election forecasts or the weather reports often have to be simplified before communication. But how should one best simplify these predictions without facing embarrassment? In astronomical data analysis, researchers are also confronted with the problem of simplifying probabilities. Two researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics now show that there is only one mathematically correct way to measure how embarrassing a simplified prediction can be. According to this, the recipient of a prediction should be deprived of the smallest possible amount of information.

Galactic anatomy of gamma rays

The anatomy of the Milky Way as seen in gamma light is full of mysteries. For example, there are gigantic bubbles of unknown origin above and below the center of the Milky Way that emit a lot of this high-energy radiation. A new method for imaging, developed at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, now divided the Galactic gamma-radiation into three fundamental components: radiation from point sources, radiation from reactions of energetic protons with dense cold gas clouds, and radiation from electrons scattering light in the thin, hot, Galactic gas. The anatomic insights gained unravel some Galactic mysteries. Thus, it appears that the gamma-ray bubbles are simply outflows of ordinary, hot gas from the central region of the Milky Way.

Information Field Theory

Information field theory (IFT) is information theory, the logic of reasoning under uncertainty, applied to fields. A field can be any quantity defined over some space, e.g. the air temperature over Europe, the magnetic field strength in the Milky Way, or the matter density in the Universe. IFT describes how data and knowledge can be used to infer field properties. Mathematically it is a statistical field theory and exploits many of the tools developed for such. Practically, it is a framework for signal processing and image reconstruction.


The temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and the cosmic matter distribution in the large-scale structure (LSS) are both tracers of the primordial quantum fluctuations. Those are believed to have happened during the very first moments of the Universe in the inflationary epoch. CMB and LSS are therefore our primary information sources on cosmology. Their detailed studies provide us insight into the history, geometry and composition of the Univserse. IFT permits us to construct optimal methods to analyse and interpret CMB and LSS data, and to image with high fidelity the cosmic structures imprinted in those datasets.

High Energy Astrophysics

The Universe is permeated by high-energy particles and magnetic fields. Charged particles with nearly the speed of light spiraling around in the magnetic fields, which themselves are bound to the cosmic plasma. The particles and fields are important ingredients of the interstellar and intergalactic media. They transport energy, they push and heat the thermal gas, and they trace violent processes in cosmic plasmas. A number of observational windows in basically all electromagnetic wavebands, ranging from the radio to the gamma ray regime, provide us with direct and indirect vision into the high energy Universe. The IFT group develops special purpose methods to better imagine relativisitc particles, magnetic fields, and even to tomographically reconstruct their distributions within the Milkey Way.

Lecture on Information Theory & Information Field Theory

Imaging in astronomy, geology and medicine require intelligent methods to obtain high fidelity images from noisy, incomplete data. The theoretical and mathematical framework in which imaging and data analysis methods are derived should be information theory to which these lectures will introduce first (first 1/3 semester, suited for Bachelor and Master students, 3 ETCS). Based on this, information theory for fields will be developed, which can be used to reconstruct signals from data (remaining 2/3 semester, more targeted at Master students, 6 ETCS).

Seminar Information Theory & Information Field Theory

The seminar is intended for participants of the lecture on Information Theory (1/3 semester) & Information Field Theory (2/3 semester), the content of which will be assumed to be known by all participants. The main seminar goal is to extend the participants' knowledge beyond the material covered in the lecture, especially with respect to concrete measurement situations, imaging, and existing algorithms. A second goal is to practice presentations and open discussions.

Past & current Software Projects

About Me

active Group



  • Address

    Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1
    85748 Garching
    Office: 010
  • Email
  • Phone

    +49 (0) 89 30000 2243