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Tycho Brahe Prize
The Tycho Brahe Prize is awarded in recognition of the development or exploitation of European instruments or major discoveries based largely on such instruments.
the French astrophysicist
in recognition of his innovative concepts and inventions now widely used in modern optical imaging at high angular resolution.
Having invented holographic gratings, Antoine Labeyrie proposed the technique of speckle interferometry, which allowed to reach the diffraction limit of even the largest telescopes. Next, he was first to obtain interference fringes between two separate telescopes after the early single-telescope demonstration by A. Michelson et al. nearly a century ago. He continues to produce an amazing variety of innovative concepts for optical interferometry with large diffracting pupils.
Antoine Labeyrie is of French nationality. He did his studies at the University of Paris and at the Institut d'Optique Théorique et Appliquée, where he obtained his Master's. He received his PhD from the University of Orsay in 1968, before starting his career as an optical engineer at the CNRS in 1971. He was appointed Professor at the Collège de France in 1991 and became a member of the Académie des Sciences in 1994. Throughout his career, Labeyrie has proved that he is an astronomer of singularly innovative genius, the source of the most important breakthroughs in the field of high angular resolution astronomy. Reaching the diffraction limit in optical light, then breaking through even this frontier by the practical application of interferometry was revolutionary, although it appears commonplace now.
the Italian astrophysicist
in recognition of his central role in the development of the European Southern Observatory facilities that have resulted in Europe's world-leading role in ground-based astronomy.
Massimo Tarenghi has played a sequence of pivotal roles in the development of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) through 35 of ESO's 50 year history. His work on the MPIA 2.2m telescope, the New Technology Telescope (NTT), the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) has resulted in a paradigm-changing observational infrastructure.
Massimo Tarenghi is of Italian nationality. He did his studies at the University of Milan where he soon developed a passion for astronomy and for building ever larger and efficient telescopes. In parallel to his career at ESO, Tarenghi has been Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Milano and is a member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. His astronomical interests include galaxy clusters, the large-scale distribution of galaxies in the universe, and active galactic nuclei. In 2006 he was appointed Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana for his scientific achievements. He spends now part of his time in Germany and part in Chile.
the German astrophysicist
in recognition of his outstanding contributions to European near-infrared astronomy, through the development of sophisticated instrumentation, and for ground-breaking work in galactic and extra-galactic astronomy leading to the best evidence to date for the existence of black holes.
Reinhard Genzel and the group led by him were responsible for building the SINFONI near-infrared integral-field spectrograph for the ESO Very Large Telescope, a key instrument for the study of the structure and dynamics of distant galaxies, as well as the detailed dynamics of the Milky Way Galaxy. He and his group have used this to great effect, pushing the boundaries of our knowledge, be this in our own backyard, studying the black hole that is at the centre of the Galaxy, or detecting forming galaxies at redshifts of z ≃ 2.
Reinhard Genzel was born in 1952 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He followed a classical high school curriculum which gave him a lasting interest in history and archeology. He enjoyed his first training in physics in early years from his father, a well known solid state physicists. Sports were also part of his early years; he trained in handball and javelin/discus. He studied physics and astronomy in Germany, obtaining a PhD in radioastronomy in Bonn. He then spent a number of years in the US, in Harvard and Berkeley, before joining the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching. He spends now part of his time in Germany and part in the US.
the British astrophysicist
for his crucial role in the fostering of high precision, global stellar astrometry from space, in particular the development of the Hipparcos mission.
Prof. Michael Perryman was the mission scientist and, during the operational phase, the mission manager of Hipparcos — the first astrometric satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA). In these roles he untiringly led the mission through many difficulties to its ultimate success. His understanding of the astrophysics, of the physics and technology involved in the satellite and its instruments as well as his intelligence of human relations contributed to a major extent to the success of the mission.
Prof. Michael Perryman is of British nationality. He was born in 1954, studied in Cambridge where he obtained his PhD in 1980. He then worked for ESA for the Hipparcos project and its successor mission until 2009, when he left for a visiting position in Heidelberg and now in Bristol.
The winner of the 2010 Tycho Brahe Prize is
the British optical engineer
Dr. Wilson has made in the last two decades of the 20th century contributions of the utmost importance to the technology of astronomical telescopes. His profound theoretical and practical knowledge of optics and his vision for achieving optical perfection led him to the concept of Active Optics which changed the world of large telescopes overnight: No major telescope will any longer be built without Active Optics. With Active Optics the shape and the alignment of telescope mirrors are constantly monitored and automatically corrected which leads to the best possible images obtained with a telescope. This concept was embodied first in the New Technology Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and was carried to its logical conclusion in the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), a telescope array of four individual 8.15-m telescopes. Thanks to Active Optics, the consistently superb image quality of the VLT has made it the world's most successful ground-based observatory and re-established Europe in a leadership position in observational optical astronomy.
Dr. Wilson came to ESO in 1972 after 11 years as Head of the Design Department for telescopes at Zeiss Oberkochen. At ESO Dr. Wilson was the initiator and the Head of the Optics and Telescopes Group. After his retirement in 1993 he worked tirelessly to prepare and update his monumental two-volume monograph "Reflecting Telescope Optics" which has become a benchmark in the field. Moreover, he extended the two- mirror telescope designs to the three-, four-, and five mirror designs that are now being explored in the next generation of extremely large telescopes.
The winner of the 2009 Tycho Brahe Prize is
the French astrophysicist
Prof. Françoise Combes is one of the leading astrophysicists in the field of extragalactic astronomy. She has done fundamental work in the area of dynamics of galaxies, on the interstellar medium in extragalactic systems, molecular absorption lines in the intergalactic medium, and on Dark Matter in the Universe. The basis of her work is formed by observations in the optical spectral range with the Very Large Telescope of the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) and in the radio domain with telescopes of the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM). These observations are then combined with theoretical studies. Françoise Combes is a prototype of the "New Astronomer" who combines observations at multiple wavelengths and theory.
Françoise Combes is professor at the Observatoire de Paris. She is author or co-author of more than 500 astronomical publications and has established most successful scientific collaborations with many groups in Europe and the USA. Chairing one of the five panels of the European initiative ASTRONET, she has substantial influence on the planning of future European instrumentation. She is presently editor of the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics and was President of the French Society of Astronomy and Astrophysics. She has many distinctions among which that of Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, the Silver Medal of the CNRS, and the IBM Prize in physics. She is a member of the French Académie des sciences.
The first winner of the 2008 Tycho Brahe Prize is
the Swedish astrophysicist
Prof. Göran Scharmer, born in 1951, is director of the Institute for Solar Physics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and professor at Stockholm University, Sweden. He is one of the leading solar physicists with a remarkable track record in advancing ground-based solar observations. The unprecedented sharpness of solar images taken with telescopes that Scharmer developed is currently leading to new insights into the physics of the photosphere and chromosphere of our Sun. The planning and construction of these telescopes which are located on Roque de los Muchachos, a mountain peak on the Island of La Palma, differs from many other recent advances in astronomical instrumentation in that one person – Göran Scharmer – is clearly identifiable as the originator of the concepts and driver of their realization.
The Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope (SST) is currently the world's best solar telescope, capable of reaching the highest angular resolution. It was the first solar telescope to reach an angular resolution of 0.1 arc sec (this is about one twenty thousandth of the solar diameter!). Among other things, the SST has discovered new features in sunspots, clarified the nature of solar faculae (which are emission areas brighter than the rest of the solar surface), and made high-temporal resolution observations which have led to great leaps in our understanding of chromospheric phenomena (the chromosphere is the lowest part of the solar atmosphere). Prof. Scharmer has also established most successful scientific collaborations with the strongest solar groups in Europe and the USA.
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