ⓘ Reinhard Genzel


ⓘ Reinhard Genzel

Genzel studied physics at the University of Freiburg and the University of Bonn where he did his PhD in 1978 and, in the same year, his PhD thesis on radioastronomy at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. He then worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He then was a Miller Fellow from 1980 until 1982, and also Associate and Full Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley from 1981. He became Scientific Member of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in 1986, and director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching and lectured at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen where he has been honorary Professor since 1988. Since 1999 he has also a joint appointment as Full Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He also sits on the selection committee for the Astronomy award, given under the auspices of the Shaw Prize. Genzel is a native speaker of German and fluent in English.


1. Work

Reinhard Genzel studies infrared- and submillimetre astronomy, and he and his group are active in developing front-line ground- and space-based instrumentation for their astronomy research. He and his group were the first to track the motions of stars at the centre of the Milky Way see Sagittarius A* and show that they were orbiting a very massive object, probably a black hole. Genzel is also active in studies of the formation and evolution of galaxies.

In July 2018, Reinhard Genzel et al reported that S2 orbiting Sgr A* had been recorded at 7.650 km/s or 2.55% the speed of light leading up to the pericentre approach in May 2018 at about 120 AU ≈ 1400 Schwarzschild radii from Sgr A*. This allowed them to assert from the discernible redshift at relativistic velocities that General Relativity was confirmed.


2. Awards

  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, 1990
  • Herschel Medal, Royal Astronomical Society, 2014
  • De Vaucouleurs Medal, University of Texas, 2000
  • Tycho Brahe Prize, European Astronomical Society, 2012
  • Stern Gerlach Medal for experimental physics, Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, 2003
  • Harvey Prize, Technion Institute, Israel, 2014
  • Balzan Prize for Infrared Astronomy, 2003
  • Karl Schwarzschild Medal, Deutsche Astronomische Gesellschaft, 2011
  • Miller Research Fellowship, 1980–1982
  • "Galileo 2000" Prize, 2009
  • Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation, 1984
  • Shaw Prize, 2008
  • Otto Hahn Medal, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, 1980
  • Prix Jules Janssen, Societe astronomique de France French Astronomical Society, 2000
  • Newton Lacy Pierce Prize, American Astronomical Society, 1986
  • Albert Einstein Medal, 2007
  • Crafoord Prize, Royal Swedish Academy, 2012

3. Membership of scientific societies

  • Foreign member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, 2000
  • Senior member of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2003
  • Foreign member of the Royal Society of London, 2012
  • Member of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, 2002
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society, 1985
  • Foreign member of the Academie des Sciences Institut de France, 1998
  • Foreign member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences, 2011
  • Member of the US and German Astronomical and Physical Societies