Hans-Thomas Janka receives Karl Schwarzschild Medal

August 24, 2022

Today, the German Astronomical Society announced that Hans-Thomas Janka will receive the Karl Schwarzschild Medal, the most prestigious prize in Germany in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. The medal honours his research on the core-collapse supernova mechanism, explosive nucleosynthesis, and supernova neutrino physics.

Thomas Janka has greatly advanced the theoretical understanding of supernova explosions by developing highly advanced hydrodynamic neutrino radiation codes for the simulation of these complex astrophysical phenomena. He has made major contributions to the field of modelling core-collapse supernovae during the past decade. His outstanding, cutting-edge numerical and theoretical work convincingly demonstrated that the neutrino-driven explosion mechanism can give rise to successful core-collapse supernova explosions in accordance with observations. He has also made very important contributions in the field of numerical models of neutron star mergers and gamma-ray bursts.

Following his physics studies at the Technical University of Munich, Thomas Janka received his PhD in 1991, also at TUM, on the topic of neutrino transport in supernovae, which was an area of intensive research after the measurements of neutrinos from Supernova 1987A. After his postdoctoral position at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) and a research stay at the University of Chicago (Truran, Turner), he has been working as a scientist at the MPA since 1995 and has been a Privatdozent since 2002 and an Associate Professor at the Technical University of Munich since 2016.
In addition, he has been involved as a sub-division or project leader in numerous Collaborative Research Centers and Clusters of Excellence, most recently as project leader in the Cluster of Excellence “ORIGINS: From the Origin of the Universe to the First Building Blocks of Life” since 2020.

Since 1986, he is a member of the Astronomical Society and has been honored with several awards, including the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society in 1991, the “Golden Chalk” for the best special lecture in physics at TUM in 2002 and 2013, and the Hanno and Ruth Roelin Prize for Science Journalism in 2011 for his book “Supernovae and Cosmic Gamma-Ray Bursts”. In 2013, he received an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council for his work on three-dimensional modeling of core-collapse supernovae. The long-term research in his field with postdoctoral fellows and graduate students has primarily been made possible by the continuous funding he has received from the German Research Foundation through several Collaborative Research Centers.

The Karl Schwarzschild Medal, which Thomas Janka will receive this year, is awarded by the Astronomische Gesellschaft to astronomers of high scientific standing. The award is associated with the Karl Schwarzschild Lecture, which will be held in Bremen, Germany, September 12-16, 2022, as part of the annual meeting. The medal is considered one of the highest honors in astronomy in Germany and is awarded to scientists both from Germany and abroad. Previous laureates include MPA Founding Director Ludwig Biermann, who was honored for his research on comets in 1980, his successor Rudolph Kippenhahn, and MPA Director Emeritus Rashid Sunyaev.

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