Prof. H.D.E. Falcke (Heino)
Professor - Astrophysics
Heino Falcke is Professor Astroparticle Physics and Radio Astronomy at the Institute for Mathematics, Astronomy and Particle Physics (IMAPP) of the Faculty of Science.
He studies the role of super massive black holes and jets in glaxies, and accretion physics through theoretical, observational and experimental astronomy. Combining these fields, he wants to test General Relativity and alternative theories in the most extreme strong field limit.
In 2000, Falcke coined the term ‘shadow of the black hole’ for the effect of light bending around the event horizon. Later, Falcke launched the idea of a network of radio telescopes around the world to answer these questions. This became the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), of which Heino Falcke became chair of the science council. In 2013, Falcke, Kramer and Rezzolla secured a Synergy Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for ‘BlackHoleCam’: to provide the required instrumentation, organize the effort required to process the data and the accompanying numerical simulations.
In April 2019 the first ever image of a black hole was presented by Heino Falcke at a press conference in Brussels. It shows the first ever image of lensed and relativistic beamed emission on the scale of the event horizon in extreme gravity, and it helps to constrain models for jet formation and energy extraction from black holes.
Falcke was awarded the 2011 Spinoza Prize by the Dutch Research Council, appointed member of the Academia Europaeana in 2013, and became member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in 2014. For his work on black holes Falcke received several international distinctions. In 2021 he received the Amaldi Medal, Henry Draper Medal, Robert M. Petrie Prize, and the Einstein Medal in 2020. He was awarded honorary doctorates at FPTR in Brussels, and University of Novi Gorica. As part of the EHT Collaboration Falcke received the 2020 RAS Team Prize, and the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundament Physics.
- Super massive black holes & Jets
- Falcke, H., F. Melia, and E. Agol (2000), The Astrophysical Journal, 528, L13-L16 "Viewing the Shadow of the Black Hole at the Galactic Center" Full text
- Falcke, H., 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" Full text
- Falcke, H., and 75 colleagues (2005). Nature 435, 313. Detection and imaging of atmospheric radio flashes from cosmic ray air showers Full text
- Van Haarlem, M. P., and 200 colleagues (2013), Astronomy and Astrophysics, 556, A2 "LOFAR: The LOw-Frequency ARray" Full text
- 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" Full text
Research grants and prizes
- 2019 - Academy medal, Akademie der Wissenschaften, Heidelberg More information
- 2019 - 19th Hintze lecturer, University Oxford More information
- 2015 - ERC Proof of Concept grant, € 150.000 science funding for AstroMetrix.
- 2013 - European Research Council Synergy grant, for imaging the event horizon of the Black Hole in the center of our Galaxy. (14 M€, together with MPIfR Bonn & University of Frankfurt)
- 2008 - ERC Advanced Investigator Grant, 3.5M€ for LOFAR-AUGER to detect black holes and ultra-high energy cosmic rays.
- 2014 - 2021 BlackHoleCam is the European partner of the EHT, which took the first ever image of the shadow of a black hole in 2019. Falcke, Rezzola and Kramer are the Principal Investigators. The project was awarded an ERC Synergy Grant in 2013. BlackHoleCam works together with the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM), the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIVE), the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), and the Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik (MPE, Garching). More information
- 2011 - Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), of which Falcke is a founding member, is an international collaboration of research institutes and observatories. The EHT uses the technique of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) to link radio dishes across the globe and so create an Earth-sized interferometer. In April 2019 the collaboration presented the first ever image of the shadow of a black hole. After being chair of the EHT Science Council from 2014-2020, he is currently a member. More information
- 2009 - 2013 Falcke also co-developed the LowFrequencyARray (LOFAR) and pioneered the detection of cosmic rays with radio antennas. The technique provides precision measurements of the cosmic ray composition and allows studying their origin. The method was successfully implemented in the LOFAR telescope and is now integrated into the large Pierre Auger Observatory. More information
- 2015 - The Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT) is a cooperation between the Radboud University Nijmegen and the University of Namibia. The AMT will be a 15-m single-dish radio telescope on the Gamsberg mountain in Namibia. Its main purpose is to provide an essential link to the network of telescopes around the globe known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). The AMT will be the only mm-wave telescope in Afrika. More information
- 2015 - The Netherlands-China Low-Frequency Explorer (NCLE) is an idea by Heino Falcke and Dr. Marc Klein Wolt. The radio telescope on the dark side of the moon detects low-frequency emissions from the Dark Ages of the universe. As Principle Investigator, Falcke and Klein Wolt succeeded to put the telescope on the chinese Chang'e 4 mission. In May 2018 the satelite has been launched into a Lissajous orbit around the Earth-Moon L2 point. The three radio antennae have been sucessfully deployed in November 2019. More information
- 01 November 2020 - "When the first image of a black hole was published, history was written. Astrophysicist Heino Falcke was one of the founding scientists of the project. Barbara Bleisch is taken by the astronomer on a journey to the end of time and space." - Podcast by SRF - in German. More information
Author of "Light in Darkness: Black Holes, the Universe and us"
(24 October 2020)
Member of Niels Stensen Fellowship Committee (Unpaid)
(01 July 2020)
Niels Stensen Fellowship