Günther Hasinger

OHA Alana Pavilion
Sunday May 6, 12:00 pm

Günther Hasinger, recently appointed Director of the Institute of Astronomy at UH Manoa,  will talk about the last Transit of Venus, 1874, systematically observed in Hawaii with the help of telescopes sent by the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. The event was reported in detail in the Hawaiian-language newspapers.  Those observations led to the first accurate measurement of the sun and the solar system.

Title of latest book: The Universe in X-Rays

Genre: Textbook; astronomy/astrophysics
Springer 1st edition; 2008
Hardcover; $139.99; 498 pages; illustrated
Available to read online

The book: In the last 45 years, X-ray astronomy has become an integral part of modern astrophysics and cosmology. There is a wide range of astrophysical objects and phenomena, where X-rays provide crucial diagnostics. In particular they are well suited to study hot plasmas and matter under extreme physical conditions in compact objects. This book summarizes the present status of X-ray astronomy in terms of observational results and their astrophysical interpretation. It is written for students, astrophysicists as well as a growing community of physicists interested in the field. An introduction including historical material is followed by chapters on X-ray astronomical instrumentation. The next two parts summarize in 17 chapters the present knowledge on various classes of X-ray sources in the galactic and extragalactic realm. While the X-ray astronomical highlights discussed in this book are mainly based on results from ROSAT, ASCA, RXTE, BeppoSAX, Chandra and XMM-Newton, a final chapter provides an outlook on observational capabilities and projects discussed for the future.

Reviews about Hasinger or his work:

“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.”

Manoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw

“The cosmological questions which the book seeks to clarify were till recently the main research field of the author, who was concerned with, in particular, investigating the sky in X-ray light. He succeeded in identifying the source of the very old and puzzling phenomenon of cosmic background X-radiation, viz. massive Black Holes in the centres of distant galaxies.”

Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik on Fate of the Universe

Dr. Günther Hasinger is a world leader in the field of X-ray astronomy and in the study of black holes, objects whose gravity is so strong that not even light can escape from them. He received his physics diploma from Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) of Munich, and in 1984, he earned a PhD in astronomy from LMU for research done at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE).

After visiting lectureships in the United States, he returned to Germany to take a position at the University of Potsdam. He served as director of the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam from 1994 to 2001. In 2001, he was appointed as a scientific member of the Max Planck Society, one of the world’s premier research organizations, and as the director of the High-Energy-Group at MPE. In 2007, he spent four months at the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) while on sabbatical, and in 2008 he became scientific director at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), the position he relinquished to become the director of the IfA.

Dr. Hasinger 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. He is a member of the Academia Europea, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and Leopoldina (the German National Academy of Sciences), and an external member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Together with his colleagues, Dr. Hasinger resolved the cosmic X-ray background radiation into distinct objects, which were then identified mainly as active black holes in distant galaxies. He has also played a key role in the operation of X-ray satellites and the development of future observatories. When the attitude control system of ROSAT, a joint German-UK-US X-ray and ultraviolet satellite, failed soon after launch in 1990, Dr. Hasinger was instrumental in developing a new control system that enabled the satellite to continue its mission.

Dr. Hasinger has also held several important national and international responsibilities, such as the chair of the Council of German Observatories and the president of the International Astronomical Union Division on Space and High Energy Astrophysics. He played a significant role in improving the financial constraints of basic space research in Germany and Europe.

In addition to writing numerous scientific papers, Dr. Hasinger is the author of an award-winning book, Fate of the Universe, which explains astrophysics and cosmology to a wider audience, and the winner of the Wilhelm Foerster Prize for public dissemination of science in 2011.

The January 17 meeting of the Rotary Club of Honolulu was, in the words of President Nancy, “out of this world.” Dr. Gunther Hasinger, Director of the Institute for Astronomy, guided members through an awe-inspiring presentation of Hawaii’s role in the latest discoveries in astronomy.

Dr. Hasinger explains that X-rays are an important way of looking at the universe.

Hasinger’s other work:

The Fate of the Universe (Das Schicksal des Universums); C.H. Beck; 2007
“Luminosity-Dependent Evolution of Soft X-ray Selected AGN. New Chandra and XMM-Newton Surveys” with T. Miyaji and M. Schmidt; Astronomy and Astrophysics, 441, 417-434; 2005
“Deep Extragalactic X-Ray Surveys” with W. N. Brandt; Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics, 43, 827-859; 2005
“XMM-Newton Observation of the Lockman Hole. I. The X-ray Data” et al; Astronomy and Astrophysics, 365, L45-L50; 2001
“Testing Current Synthesis Models of the X-ray Background” with R. Gilli and M. Salvati; Astronomy and Astrophysics, 366, 407-417; 2001
“The ROSAT Deep Survey. I. X-ray Sources in the Lockman Field” with R. Burg, R. Giacconi, M. Schmidt, J. Trumper, and G. Zamorani, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 329, 482-494, 1998

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