Dr. Dominika Wylezalek - Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizewinner 2024

Astrophysics, University of Heidelberg

Astrophysicist Dominika Wylezalek conducts research into how galaxies form and the particular role played by supermassive black holes at their centres. To this end, she observes active galactic nuclei (quasars), which are among the most luminous objects in the universe. She has already provided initial evidence that the energy pumped into the environment by supermassive black holes has a relevant influence on star formation and therefore on the current shape of galaxies. 

In a NASA research project, she collected data from the James Webb Space Telescope and found a galaxy cluster with a large number of massive galaxies in the process of forming around an extremely red quasar. The galaxy cluster dates back to the cosmological epoch of highly active star formation (“cosmic noon”) some ten billion years ago. This observation helps understand how galaxies in the early universe merged to form the cosmic web we see today.