Crafoord Prize in Astronomy 2012 for Reinhard Genzel
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today that the Crafoord Prize in
Astronomy 2012 will be jointly awarded to Reinhard Genzel from the Max Planck Institute for
Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, and Andrea Ghez from the University of California, Los
Angeles, USA "for their observations of the stars orbiting the galactic centre, indicating
the presence of a supermassive black hole".
The official statement specifies that both laureates have found the most reliable evidence to
date that supermassive black holes really exist. For decades, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez,
with their research teams, have tracked stars around the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. Separately,
they both arrived at the same conclusion: in our home galaxy resides a giant black hole called Sagittarius A*.
Black holes are impossible to observe directly - everything in their vicinity
vanishes into them, virtually nothing is let out. The only way of exploring
black holes is to investigate the effects their gravitation has on the
surroundings. From the motions of stars around the centre of the Milky Way,
Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, and their colleagues, estimated the mass of
Sagittarius A* at some four million solar masses. Sagittarius A* is our
closest supermassive black hole. It allows astronomers to better investigate
gravity and explore the limitations of the theory of relativity.
The Crafoord Prize in astronomy and mathematics, biosciences, geosciences or polyarthritis
research is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences annually according to a rotating
scheme. The first prize was awarded in 1982 and starting in 2012, there will be two separate
prizes in astronomy and mathematics awarded at the same time, each with a prize sum of SEK 4 million.
The prize is presented in April/May on "Crafoord Day". It is received from the hand of His
Majesty the King of Sweden. In connection with the Crafoord Day, a symposium in the discipline
in question is arranged by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Reinhard Genzel was born 1952 in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe. He received his doctoral degree in
1978 from the Universität Bonn. Since 1986 he is Director at the Max Planck Institute for
Extraterrestrial Physics, honorary professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
(since 1988), and Full Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley (since 1999).
Web page of the Crafoord Prize
The prize was handed over during the Crawford Days May 14/15, 2012.
Interview with Prof. Genzel (in German; Sterne und Weltraum)
Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle
Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
and Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics
Phone: +49 89 30000-3980
Prof. Dr. Reinhard Genzel
Infrared/Submillimeter Astronomy Group
Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics
Phone: +49 89 30000-3280