The Netherlands/Germany

Heino Falcke

2023 Balzan Prize for High resolution images: from planetary to cosmic objects

For his fundamental research that has made it possible to image the surroundings of a black hole with high precision, thanks to his leading role in the development of the Event Horizon Telescope, which was built specifically for this purpose, and provides the most accurate images of these celestial bodies to date not only in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, but also in distant galaxies such as the galaxy M87. This has made it possible to confirm Einstein’s general theory of relativity in situations where gravity is so strong that space-time is significantly curved (and to prove that supermassive black holes exist).

Heino Falcke, born on 26 September 1966 in Cologne, Germany, is a German citizen.

Since 2007 he has been full Professor of Astroparticle Physics and Radio Astronomy at Radboud University Nijmegen and a Guest Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn since 2011.

In 1993 Falcke obtained his Diploma in Physics, in 1994 his Ph.D., and in 2000 his Habilitation at the University of Bonn.

He is a Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Academia Europaea. He is also a member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG), the Astronomische Gesellschaft (AG), and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW).

In 2020 his best-selling book Licht im Dunkeln. Schwarze Löcher, das Universum und wir (English edition: Light in the Darkness: Black Holes, the Universe, and Us) was published in Germany by Klett-Clotta and has since been translated into ten languages.

Among his key papers:

H. Falcke and P. L. Biermann (1995), Astronomy and Astrophysics, 293, 665-682: “The jet-disk symbiosis. 1. Radio to X-ray emission models for quasars”.

H. Falcke, F. Melia, and E. Agol (2000), The Astrophysical Journal, 528, L13-L16: “Viewing the Shadow of the Black Hole at the Galactic Center”.

S. Markoff, H. Falcke, and R. Fender (2001), Astronomy and Astrophysics, 372, L25-L28: “A jet model for the broadband spectrum of XTE J1118+480. Synchrotron emission from radio to X-rays in the Low/Hard spectral state”.

H. Falcke, E. Körding, and S. Markoff (2004), Astronomy and Astrophysics, 414, 895-903: “A scheme to unify low-power accreting black holes. Jet-dominated accretion flows and the radio/X-ray correlation”.

H. Falcke and 75 colleagues (2005), Nature, 435, 313-316: “Detection and imaging of atmospheric radio flashes from cosmic ray air showers”.

R. P. Eatough, H. Falcke, and 26 colleagues (2013), Nature, 501, 391-394: “A strong magnetic field around the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy”.

M. P. van Haarlem and 200 colleagues (2013), Astronomy and Astrophysics, 556, A2: “LOFAR: The LOw-Frequency ARray”.

Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration and 348 colleagues (2019), The Astrophysical Journal, 875, L1: “First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results.

I. The Shadow of the Supermassive Black Hole” (member of writing team & internal corresponding author).

Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration and 388 colleagues (2022), The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 930, L12: “First Sagittarius A* Event Horizon Telescope Results. I. The Shadow of the Supermassive Black Hole in the Center of the Milky Way”.

M. F. Wondrak, W. D. van Suijlekom, and H. Falcke (2023), Physical Review Letters, 130, 221502: “Gravitational Pair Production and Black Hole Evaporation”.

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