Professor Reinhard Genzel ForMemRS

Reinhard Genzel is a pioneer in developing sensitive instruments for the exploration of the structure and activity of the Milky Way and other galaxies. He has provided the astronomy community with the best evidence yet of a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. Recently, Reinhard’s team discovered a large gas cloud falling towards this black hole. By observing how this cloud is being torn apart, astronomers are gaining new insight into black hole activity.

Reinhard makes observations of stars and galaxies in the infrared, submillimetre and millimetre parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. By developing increasingly sensitive equipment, he aims to study stars and galaxies at higher resolutions and at greater distances. His research is helping to answer key questions such as how star-forming galaxies formed and evolved 10 billion years ago.

Reinhard has received many awards in recognition of his contributions. These include: the 2003 Balzan Prize; the 2008 Shaw Prize in Astronomy; the 2012 Crafoord Prize; and the 2014 Herschel Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Subject groups

  • Astronomy and physics

    Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Gravitation


  • Nobel Prize in Physics

    For the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.

  • Balzan Prize

    For infrared astronomy.

  • Crafoord Prize

    In the field of astronomy for their observations of the stars orbiting the galactic centre, indicating the presence of a supermassive black hole.

Professor Reinhard Genzel ForMemRS
Elected 2012