Fizeau Investigator Prize for Christoph Leinert

July 23, 2014

Since 2010, Commission 54 (Optical and Infrared Interferometry) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the Observatoire de la Cote 'Azur (OCA), and the Mt. Wilson Institute (MWI) are awarding the Fizeau Prize for "outstanding achievement in fundamentals and implementation of optical interferometry". The Fizeau Investigator Prize 2014 is awarded to Christoph Leinert from the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) "for his considerable scientific achievements throughout his career, and specifically for his role as Principal Investigator for the MIDI instrument on the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI)."

In the eulogy for the award of the Fizeau Investigator Prize, the committee writes:

"His noteworthy career connects to a recurring theme of high angular resolution astronomy, which ultimately led him to long-baseline interferometry at the VLTI. The remarkable success of MIDI can be directly connected to the scientific and technical leadership of Professor Leinert, resulting in breakthroughs in our understanding of active galactic nuclei, protoplanetary disks, and circumstellar envelopes of asymptotic giant branch stars; this leadership has also been instrumental in significantly expanding the interferometry user community. Professor Leinert's success with the VLTI is inspiring the next generation of researchers and instrumentation to build on these successes."

MIDI works at mid-infrared wavelengths and was built by seven institutes under the direction of MPIA with Christoph Leinert (Project Scientist) and Uwe Graser (Project Manager) as the PI's. The high resolution is achieved by combining the light beams of two telescopes on Paranal (either from the 8.2-m Unit Telescopes or from the 1.8-m Auxiliary Telescopes). MIDI was the first interferometric instrument offered to the community at Paranal and an extraordinary important step towards the upcoming generation of instrumentation at the VLTI like the MATISSE instrument.

A very recent result based on MIDI observations can be found here (


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