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Professor Reinhard Genzel wins million-dollar Shaw prize

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 April 2010 15:03
Published on Tuesday, 10 June 2008 00:00
Professor Reinhard Genzel, Associate of the Royal Astronomical Society since 1994, Darwin Lecturer in 2007, and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has been awarded the Shaw Prize in Astronomy for 2008.

The Shaw Prize in Astronomy is given annually and carries a monetary award of US$ 1 million. Professor Genzel is awarded the prize in recognition of his outstanding contribution to astronomy in demonstrating that our home galaxy, the Milky Way, contains a supermassive black hole at its centre.

Former RAS Presidents Professor Donald Lynden-Bell and Professor Martin Rees suggested that our Galaxy contained a supermassive black hole in 1969. But at that time evidence for this was only tentative because the galactic centre is obscured by interstellar dust.

Reinhard Genzel and his collaborators developed instruments to be used on the telescopes of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The team then observed the galactic centre from 1992 to 2007 and were able to follow one star through its complete 15-year orbit around the black hole, allowing them to confirm its presence and establish its mass as equivalent to 3 million times that of our Sun.

The Shaw Prize was established by Mr Run Run Shaw in November 2002 and is managed and administered by the Shaw Prize Foundation in Hong Kong.

Shaw Prize Foundation

European Southern Observatory