Physics Nobel Prize 2020 for Reinhard Genzel

Jointly with Roger Penrose and Andrea Ghez, MPE Director Reinhard Genzel was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for their research on black holes. Using high-precision methods, Genzel's group has been observing the immediate environment around the black hole at the center of our Milky Way for many years to determine its mass. On this page you will find a compilation of relevant results and links to the MPE's Galactic Center research.

Research News about the Galactic Center

GRAVITY zooms in on stars around the supermassive black hole at the heart of our Milky Way more

Observations led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have revealed for the first time that a star orbiting the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way moves just as predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Its orbit is shaped like a rosette and not like an ellipse as predicted by Newton's theory of gravity. This long-sought-after result was made possible by increasingly precise measurements with ESO telescopes over nearly 30 years, which have enabled scientists to unlock the mysteries of the behemoth lurking at the heart of our galaxy. more

GRAVITY instrument confirms black hole status of the Milky Way centre more

Observations of the Galactic Centre team at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) have for the first time revealed the effects predicted by Einstein’s general relativity on the motion of a star passing through the extreme gravitational field near the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way. This long-sought result represents the climax of a 26-year-long observation campaign using ESO’s telescopes in Chile. more

Successful observations with GRAVITY and the ESO 8m Very Large Telescopes more

Successful commissioning of GRAVITY at the VLTI more

In November, astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics presented new observations of the gas cloud G2 in the galactic centre originally discovered in 2011. These data are in remarkably good agreement with an on-going tidal disruption. As a complete surprise came the discovery that the orbit of G2 matches that of another gas cloud detected a decade ago, suggesting that G2 might actually be part of a much more extensive gas streamer. This would also match some of the proposed scenarios that try to explain the presence of G2. One such model is that G2 is originating from the wind from a massive star. more

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".

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Over the next few years, astronomers will be able to observe first-hand how the super massive black hole at the centre of our Milky Way is being fed: an international team of astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has found a gas cloud that is falling towards the black hole in the galactic centre. While some distortion due to the huge gravitational pull of the black hole can already be seen, the gas cloud will be completely disrupted and ultimately swallowed by the black hole, resulting in largely increased X-ray emission. The observations and analysis are described in a Nature paper, published online on 14 December 2011. more

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