06.12.2013

Oliver Pfuhl and Martin Winkler received the Universe Phd Awards 2013

Dr. Oliver Pfuhl and Dr. Martin Winkler were presented with this year's Universe PhD Award 2013 for the best doctoral theses at the Excellence Cluster Universe in 2012/13. Martin Winkler graduated with a paper on dark matter at the Technische Universität München. Oliver Pfuhl developed in his thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics innovative components for the GRAVITY interferometer. The two young researchers received the Universe PhD Award endowed with 2,000 Euros during the Excellence Cluster Universe's Science Week 2013.

In the first part of his thesis, Dr. Oliver Pfuhl develops two key-components for the GRAVITY interferometer at the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT). GRAVITY will probe the physics of General Relativity by directly resolving the orbital motions of stars close to the event horizon of the central super massive black hole in our Milky Way. The second part of the thesis uses the SINFONI integral field spectrometer at the ESO VLT to investigate the star formation history of the star cluster around the central black hole in the Milky Way. The analysis of more than 500 stars reveals that more than 80 percent of the stellar mass close to the black hole must have formed already more than five billion years ago. The spectacular conclusion in agreement with other observations is that the cluster must have formed at times when the mass of the black hole, and therefore its influence on surrounding star formation, was still small. "The dissertation by Dr. Oliver Pfuhl is an important advancement of astronomical science", recognizes the selection committee.

Dr. Martin Winkler discusses in the first part of his thesis "Light dark matter in theory and experiment" the evidence for dark matter particles from direct search experiments, of which some of them have seen possible signals, others not. Furthermore, Winkler analyzes the experiments for the indirect search of dark matter via its possible decay products. He comes to the conclusion that no evidence for dark matter can be drawn from the indirect search experiments, but a strict limit on the cross section of dark matter with ordinary matter may be derived. Models for dark matter are also discussed in supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model. Winkler proposes an original approach which fits within the observed limits. Additionally, he discusses ways to test the model. "The thesis is an excellent written, original and important contribution to this very current and exciting question", the selection committee says.

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Exzellenzcluster Universe
Petra Riedel
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Technische Universität München
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Dr. Oliver Pfuhl received the Universe PhD Award 2013 for his outstanding experimental thesis: Prof. Dr. Hermann Wolter, Prof. Dr. Joachim Trümper, awardee Dr. Oliver Pfuhl, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Graw, Prof. Dr. Andreas Burkert (from left). Foto: Fierlinger/EXC


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