Prof. Dr. Norbert Langer
DAAD Scholarship 1984, DAAD Scholarship 1990
If you click on the name "Norbert Langer" on his homepage, you get to see a picture of an astronaut in space. Behind the visor is the smiling face of Professor Norbert Langer. This shows that the astrophysicist, who was born in 1958 and has been one of the world's leading international experts in the field of theoretical astrophysics for more than two decades, is also emotionally attached to his life as a scientist.
The stars do not volunteer to show us the things we would like to know.
He became known for his research on the development of high mass-stars all the ways through to the explosion – the supernova. He contributed to the understanding of cosmic mechanisms and delivered key answers to exciting questions: How do high-mass stars form? How to black holes develop? "The stars do not volunteer to show us the things we would like to know," says the astrophysicist. Such processes can be observed in the local universe, for example, and particularly in the Milky Way. However, it is only possible to gain a closer insight into the secrets that are so very far away with the help of computational simulations and models. The development of such models lies right at the heart of Langer's scientific interest.
In 2008, Norbert Langer became one of the first eight Humboldt Professors, who receive Germany's most valuable research prize. Since the summer of 2009 he has been conducting research at the University of Bonn’s Argelander-Institut für Astronomie (AIfA), where he is executive director. The award aims to enable exceptional scientists to work long term at German universities under good conditions. He has already gained experience in this field. After studying and gaining his doctorate in Göttingen, a Heisenberg Fellowship took him to the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching from 1993 to 1996. He subsequently moved to the University of Potsdam and accepted the offer of a professorship from Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 2000.
Today, Langer sees his stays at the University of Tokyo in Japan (1984) and the Bosscha Observatory at the Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia (1990) on a DAAD Scholarship as "decisive" for his career. Japan was in fact his very first stay abroad and opened his eyes to how effective international contacts in science are. The time in Indonesia helped him make a scientific breakthrough. He addressed a symposium in Bali where his latest papers were discussed. "After that, I was well known in the community," recalls Langer.