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Press Release No. | 6 October 2020
DFG Congratulates Reinhard Genzel on the Nobel Prize in Physics

1990 Leibniz Prize winner to share the honour with American and British scientists for their research into black holes

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) congratulates Professor Dr. Reinhard Genzel on the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm today announced that it is dividing this year’s award between the scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, his American colleague Andrea Ghez and British scientist Roger Penrose for their research into black holes.

DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker said: “The DFG is delighted for Reinhard Genzel, who is renowned for his outstanding knowledge-driven research into one of the most fundamental questions of our universe. We are particularly pleased that we awarded him the DFG’s Leibniz Prize back in 1990 for the first ground-breaking research in the same field, which together with a series of other breakthroughs has now culminated in the Nobel Prize.”

Genzel had already received the Leibniz Prize for his work on black holes, in which he was able to demonstrate that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of our galaxy. His increasingly precise observations have shown more convincingly than ever before that a supermassive black hole is likely to be the most plausible explanation. He achieved these scientific breakthroughs with the help of ultra-precise infrared measuring equipment that was developed by his working group and is now used by the world’s best telescopes. In 1990, he was already one of the world’s leading scientists in the area of galaxy research.

Reinhard Genzel is the eighth winner of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, established by the DFG in 1985, to go on and receive the Nobel Prize – following Hartmut Michel (Chemistry, 1988), Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann (Medicine, 1991), Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (Medicine, 1995), Theodor Hänsch (Physics, 2005), Gerhard Ertl (Chemistry, 2007) and Stefan Hell (Chemistry, 2014).

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