Otto Hahn Medal for Jens Stücker

June 17, 2020

During its general meeting, the Max Planck Society announced that former MPA PhD student Jens Stücker receives one of the Otto Hahn Medals this year. The prize is awarded for numerical investigations of the dark matter phase-space structure in the smallest halos, thereby allowing to better distinguish between Warm and Cold Dark Matter.

Detailed simulations of structure formation in the universe allow the scientists to distinguish between Cold and Warm Dark Matter.

The nature of the dark matter, the dominant material component of today's universe, is a mystery. All known particles are excluded, and currently popular speculations for new particles include Cold Dark Matter (for example, an axion) which predicts dark matter haloes to form down to very low mass, and Warm Dark Matter (for example, a sterile neutrino) which predicts no structures less massive than the dark halo of a small dwarf galaxy. In his thesis, Jens Stücker has developed new numerical techniques which, for the first time, make it possible to simulate the formation and internal structure of the lowest mass halos with sufficient accuracy that astronomical observations should be able to distinguish definitively between Warm and Cold Dark Matter.

After his studies of physics at the Technical University of Dortmund and the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Jens Stücker came to the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) in 2015 to write his doctoral thesis on "The Complexity of the Dark Matter Sheet". Already during his time as a doctoral student, he was honoured with the Kippenhahn Prize in 2018 for the best scientific student publication (together with his colleague Aniket Agrawal). Since September 2019, he has been doing postdoctoral research at the Donostia International Physics Center in San Sebastian, Spain.

Every year since 1978, the Max Planck Society awards the Otto Hahn Medal and 7,500 euros of prize money to its best junior scientists - mostly for achievements in connection with their doctorates. The prize is intended to motivate especially gifted early career researchers to pursue a future university or research career.

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