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PAIR Distinguished Lecture Series: A 40-Year Journey

Conference / Lecture

  • Date

    09 Feb 2023

  • Organiser

    PolyU Academy for Interdisciplinary Research

  • Time

    16:00 - 17:30

  • Venue

    Online via Zoom  


Prof. Reinhard Genzel


PolyU Academy for Interdisciplinary Research 852 3400 3036



Professor Reinhard Genzel, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, received the Nobel Prize for Physics 2020 together with Roger Penrose and Andrea Ghez, for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.

Professor Genzel born in Bad Homburg in 1952, studied physics at the University of Bonn and received his doctorate from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in 1978. He went on to join the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was a Miller Fellow from 1980 to 1982, and became a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in 1981. In 1986, Genzel was appointed Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching near Munich. Since 1999, he has been full professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Reinhard Genzel has received many prizes and awards, including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation in 1990, the Balzan Prize in 2003 for his work on infrared metrology, the Shaw Prize in 2008 and the Crafoord Prize in 2012.

More information:



More than one hundred years ago, Albert Einstein published his Theory of General Relativity (GR). One year later, Karl Schwarzschild solved the GR equations for a non-rotating, spherical mass distribution; if this mass is sufficiently compact, even light cannot escape from within the so-called event horizon, and there is a mass singularity at the center. The theoretical concept of a 'black hole' was born, and was refined in the next decades by work of Penrose, Wheeler, Kerr, Hawking and many others. First indirect evidence for the existence of such black holes in our Universe came from observations of compact X-ray binaries and distant luminous quasars. I will discuss the forty-year journey, which my colleagues and I have been undertaking to study the mass distribution in the Center of our Milky Way from ever more precise, long-term studies of the motions of gas and stars as test particles of the space time. These studies show the existence of a four million solar mass object, which must be a single massive black hole, beyond any reasonable doubt.

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Reinhard Genzel

Prof. Reinhard Genzel

2020 Nobel Laureate in Physics
Director and Scientific Member, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching
Honorary Professor of Physics at the Ludwig- Maximilian University, Munich
Emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley

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