Award2024 Copernicus Award for Astrophysicist Joachim Wambsganss

Press Release No. 50/2024
22 May 2024

German Research Foundation and Foundation for Polish Science jointly honour Heidelberg scientist and his colleague Andrzej Udalski from Warsaw

The Copernicus Award in 2024 goes to Prof. Dr Joachim Wambsganss, scientist at the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University (ZAH), for his contributions to German-Polish collaboration in astrophysics. He receives the award together with his fellow researcher Prof. Dr Andrzej Udalski from the University of Warsaw (Poland). Every two years the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) jointly grant the award to two notable researchers from Germany and Poland. It is endowed with 200,000 euros.

Porträt Joachim Wambsganß

The jury in particular recognised the more than two decades of cross-border cooperation between Prof. Wambsganss and Prof. Udalski, along with their joint accomplishments in searching for and characterising exoplanets. Through their joint research in international teams, says the DFG, they have succeeded in spearheading the discovery of a particularly low-mass planet outside our solar system. Further, they discovered that almost every star in the Milky Way is orbited by a planet. In so doing, according to the jury, Joachim Wambsganss and Andrzej Udalski have made considerable contributions to the exploration and understanding of planetary systems. The results of their research have met with worldwide interest, in astrophysics and beyond. The German Research Foundation especially underlines the fact that the researchers have given numerous lectures in their respective neighbouring country, and also involved their doctoral students and postdocs, which has contributed to further deepening the scientific relations between Germany and Poland.

Joachim Wambsganss studied physics and astronomy at Heidelberg University and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he gained his doctorate in 1990. After postdoctoral positions at Princeton University in New Jersey (USA) and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, and further research at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam and the University of Potsdam, he accepted a professorial appointment at Heidelberg University in 2004. There he became the head of the Institute for Astronomical Computing (ARI). From 2005 to 2015 he was Director of the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University, to which ARI belongs. Besides extrasolar planets, his research fields include the effect of gravitational microlensing, dark matter and galaxy clusters.

Since 2006, the Copernicus Award has, every two years, honoured two prominent researchers from Germany and Poland. It is named after the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) and aims to symbolise the close research collaboration between the two countries. The 2024 Copernicus Award will be presented by DFG President Prof. Dr Katja Becker and FNP President Prof. Dr Maciej Żylicz at a ceremony in Berlin on 24 October.