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Hasinger Named New IfA Director

Günther Hasinger

Günther Hasinger, whose work has been instrumental in the operation of X-ray satellites and the development of future observatories, has been appointed director of the Institute for Astronomy, effective January 2, 2011.

Hasinger is currently the scientific director at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, near Munich, Germany. His work there focused on the synergies between astrophysics and plasma physics—introducing modern X-ray diagnostics into fusion physics, with the aim of reproducing the Sun's source of energy in a fusion power plant.

Hasinger is a world leader in the field of X-ray astronomy and in the study of black holes. Together with his colleagues, he has resolved the cosmic X-ray background radiation into discrete objects, which were then identified mainly as active black holes in distant galaxies. These studies showed that the cosmological evolution of active galactic nuclei (the centers of galaxies that emit much more radiation than can be produced by stars alone) is closely associated with the star-forming history of galaxies in the Universe and that black holes are likely motors for the development of galaxies.

Hasinger received his physics diploma from Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich, and a PhD in astronomy from LMU for research done at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE). He served as director of the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam from 1994 to 2001 and later as managing director of MPE. In 2007, he spent four months at IfA while on sabbatical.

He has received numerous awards for his research and scientific achievements, including the Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the most significant research prize in Germany, and the international Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Award for his outstanding contributions to space science.

In addition to writing numerous scientific papers, Hasinger is the author of an award-winning book, Fate of the Universe, which explains astrophysics and cosmology to a wider audience.

“We were delighted and grateful for the many outstanding candidates interested in this tremendously important position," said Manoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw. "Dr. Hasinger's exemplary international space expertise and his enthusiastic approach to partnering with our Hawai`i community members and university colleagues created much excitement about his leadership, so we warmly welcome him into our `ohana. The opportunities for the future are truly exciting and we are confident he will lead and partner in the best of ways for UH Manoa and all of Hawai`i."

Hasinger will replace Rolf-Peter Kudritzki, who will relinquish the IfA directorship at the end of the year. Kudritzki will use a 2010 Humboldt Research Award during a 2011 sabbatical to investigate the physics of galaxies.