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Forschung von Weltrang in der Lausitz

Cutting-edge research in Lusatia

Press release from
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang E. Nagel, director of the Center for Information Services and High Performance Computing, TU Dresden, Katharina Henjes-Kunst, Deutsches Elektronensynchrotron DESY, DZA project supervisor, Prof. Dr. Günther Hasinger, research director of the European Space Agency (ESA), Prof. Dr. Stefan Wagner, Landessternwarte Königstuhl and professor at the Center for Astronomy of Heidelberg University and Prof. Dr. Michèle Heurs, Institute of Gravitational Physics at LUH.

German Center for Astrophysics – Research. Technology. Digitization. (DZA) wins structural funding competition – LUH is involved in the project

The decision in the competition "Wissen.schafft.Perspektiven" has been made: With the German Center for Astrophysics – Research. Technology. Digitization. (DZA), a major national research centre with international appeal will be created, which will promote resource-efficient digitisation, develop new technologies, ensure transfer and create prospects for the region – based in Lusatia (Saxony).

The DZA is a joint initiative of astronomy and astroparticle physics in Germany. Many renowned researchers are part of the initiative, including Prof. Dr. Michèle Heurs, Institute of Gravitational Physics at Leibniz University Hannover. The centre is supported by the major research organisations in Germany. The DZA will be based in Görlitz and the administrative district Bautzen. Following the initial stage, annual funding of approximately 170 million euros is planned for the final expansion stage; the centre itself will employ more than 1,000 members of staff.

The research director of the European Space Agency (ESA), Prof. Dr. Günther Hasinger, leads the initiative and acts as designated founding director of the DZA. "This competition opened up new perspectives, both for the regions in Saxony and for our society – an important symbol of the future in difficult times. Following a demanding process over the past one and a half years in which our plans were evaluated thoroughly, we are delighted that we can now implement our project. Lusatia in Saxony is an ideal place for this for many reasons," says Professor Hasinger. "We are grateful to those who have supported us up to this point and look forward to further cooperation in the future," adds Professor Hasinger.

Science with an impact

Astrophysics remains a high-tech scientific field with a great capacity for innovation. Varifocal glasses, glass-ceramic surfaces, essential components in mobile phones, navigation systems or fast electronic bank transfers via satellite – all of these things exist due to astronomical research.

At the moment, astrophysics is experiencing a downright boom. Half of the Nobel Prizes in Physics in the past decade were awarded in astronomy, astrophysics and astroparticle physics. Today’s astronomical measurements are fundamentally different from the astronomy of earlier times. Modern telescopes are huge devices, spread all over the world, with international collaborations working on them. They are located in the Chilean highlands, in remote Australia and deep within the ice of Antarctica. They require the most precise measurement techniques, and the data that new observatories will collect is many times that of today's internet.

In the future, this data from all over the world will be gathered in Saxony, where the world’s largest civilian data set is created. The DZA therefore also faces socially relevant challenges. Forecasts predict that IT will soon devour twenty percent of global electricity. The DZA intends to address these challenges, promote green computing and resource-efficient digitisation while developing new technologies for tomorrow's society.

Perspectives for the region

Many examples demonstrate that astronomical research changes regions in a sustainable manner. With its unique combination of research and development in IT, sensor technology and materials research as well as required manufacturing facilities, the DZA will provide economic momentum and create at least 3,000 sustainable jobs, both at the centre and in the surrounding area. The DZA’s portfolio is diverse, offering jobs in science, but even more so in non-scientific fields. With a Centre for Innovation and Technology Transfer (ZIT), the DZA explores new ways of cooperation between research and industry partners. Through early, close collaborations with industry partners, universities and non-academic research organisations, the ZIT aims to develop new technologies. Through international visibility and networking, the DZA intends to attract specialist staff while creating prospects for young people in the region. Cooperation partners include universities, led by TU Dresden, as well as companies specialising in technology development and data processing. In addition, more than 50 – mostly small and medium-sized – companies have supported the DZA initiative. Moreover, its foundation is of strategic importance for Germany as a science location. The DZA will ensure access for German science to future large-scale international projects and thus open up opportunities for the industry to participate in calls.

The DZA concept

The scientific and economic concept of the DZA is based on three pillars: Cutting-edge astronomical research at the DZA will include the entire electromagnetic spectrum, even gravitational waves. During the initial phase, the DZA will focus on radio and gravitational wave astronomy due to many synergy effects; in the long term, the centre will be dedicated to all astronomical data.

In the second pillar, the DZA compiles and processes data streams from all over the world. This also includes data from future large telescopes, such as the Square Kilometre Array or the Einstein Telescope. The data from these telescopes accounts for several times the data traffic on today's internet and requires new technologies. The centre intends to tame the data tsunami while accelerating digitisation in Germany.

The third pillar will be a technology centre where, among other things, new semiconductor sensors, silicon optics and control techniques for observatories will be developed. Building on the experience and modern industry environment in Saxony, new companies and further high-quality jobs will be created via spin-offs. Spin-offs are intended to generate further local jobs, through international visibility and networking, and create prospects for young people in the Lusatia region.

Locations

Seismic waves permanently pass through the Earth's surface. For gravitational wave detectors, they are considerable interference factors. Furthermore, particularly calm geological conditions are required to develop measuring and production technologies. The DZA will use the unique seismographic conditions in the granite rock of Lusatia in order to conduct research on and development new devices. Here, in an area between Hoyerswerda, Bautzen and Kamenz, an underground research laboratory, the Low Seismic Lab, will be built, which will also be available for industrial applications, such as the development of quantum computers.

The city Görlitz is an excellent location for the DZA due to its proximity to the university cities Dresden, Wrocław and Prague and the promising new businesses in the innovation and high-tech sector. Here, an open campus for cutting-edge research will be established in the Kahlbaum area, embedded in the city, with the centres for astrophysics and data science, the technology centre and the centre for innovation and transfer. The concept also includes a visitor park.

Initial stage

Following a three-year initial phase, the centre will be formally established. The TU Dresden will be the project sponsor during this period and will also be involved with regard to professional expertise in the field of data analytics, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing. A planning team will soon start with offices in the Kahlbaum area in Görlitz and at the Low Seismic Lab in the district of Bautzen.

Further information:

Applicants:

Prof. Dr. Günther Hasinger, research director of the European Space Agency (ESA)

Prof. Dr. Michèle Heurs, Leibniz University Hannover

Prof. Dr. Hermann Heßling, HTW Berlin, chairperson of the Association for Data-Intensive Radio Astronomy (VdR)

Prof. Dr. Michael Kramer, director at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, president of the German Astronomical Society

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang E. Nagel, director of the Center for Information Services and High Performance Computing, TU Dresden

Prof. Dr. Christian Stegmann, director in charge of astroparticle physics, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY, head of the location in Zeuthen

Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, board spokesperson, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam

Prof. Dr. Stefan Wagner, Landessternwarte Königstuhl and professor at the Center for Astronomy of Heidelberg University

Quotes:
“Astronomy is currently opening new windows to our cosmos that not only fascinate science, it also promotes technology and innovation with the potential to change our world.”

Prof. Dr. Michael Kramer, director at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, president of the German Astronomical Society

"Germany needed a national centre for astrophysics. It is a valuable addition to Germany’s scientific landscape with an international appeal. I am delighted that it will be established in the east of Germany.

Prof. Dr. Christian Stegmann, director in charge of astroparticle physics, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY, head of the location in Zeuthen

"TU Dresden will be a strong and efficient partner for the DZA. Together, we will not only break new ground in digitisation with intelligent data analysis, but also develop new technology solutions with Green Computing and the Low Seismic Lab, thereby creating important economic impulses that will benefit not only astronomy, but also society.”

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang E. Nagel, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Sciences (CIDS), TU Dresden

“The DZA will develop into a globally visible centre in the young field of gravitational wave astronomy and play an important role for German astrophysics in future large-scale projects such as the Einstein Telescope. Astrophysics has always been a driver of high technology. The DZA will become a large-scale research centre that brings high technology – from radio astronomy to gravitational wave detection, from green computing to smart sensors to modern optics – into transfer to applications and the industry! LUH's research strengths will be vital to achieve this.”

Prof. Dr. Michèle Heurs, Leibniz University Hannover

“Today, astronomy is already facing the challenges of tomorrow's society in processing and storing large amounts of data. The DZA intends to make significant contributions to resource-efficient digitisation of Germany.”

Prof. Dr. Hermann Heßling, HTW Berlin, chairperson of the Association for Data-Intensive Radio Astronomy (VdR)

“Astronomy inspires. Sparking interest in STEM subjects early on is vital.
We focus on education: From daycare to school laboratories, from further training for teaching staff to programmes for trainees and junior researchers”.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Wagner, Landessternwarte Königstuhl and professor at the Center for Astronomy of Heidelberg University

“Astronomy has always been a high-tech science. The technological challenges that the DZA will endeavour to solve offer multiple starting-points for the regional economy from small businesses to large industries."

Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz (board spokesperson, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam)

Note to editors

For further information, please contact Katharina Henjes-Kunst from DESY (DZA project supervisor), Tel. +49 33762 77434, Email dza@desy.de and Mechtild Freiin v. Münchhausen, spokesperson of Leibniz University Hannover and head of Communications and Marketing, Tel. +49 511 762 5342, Email vonMuenchhausen@zuv.uni-hannover.de