2021 Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences Presented to Shep Doeleman and Heino Falcke

Recognizing their vision and leadership within the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) awards Shep Doeleman and Heino Falcke the Henry Draper Medal.  The 300+ members of the collaboration are honored and proud of this recognition of the revolutionary and fundamental scientific results they achieved together.

The Henry Draper Medal is awarded every four years and honors a recent, original investigation in astronomical physics of sufficient importance and benefit to science.  From the NAS: "the EHT collaboration envelops theory, instrumentation, observation, and analysis through the engagement and concerted coordination of international radio telescopes.  Both scientists are pivotal in realizing  the imaging of the supermassive black hole in the M87 galaxy, supporting Einstein’s Theory of Relativity."  

Heino Falcke, professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen and the EHT's first Science Council chairman and now Board Member, and Shep Doeleman, Harvard University Senior Research Fellow and EHT Founding Director, have issued a joint statement: "It’s an honor and quite humbling to receive the award.  For both of us, this work has been a central focus of our careers, and to see the image was really a dream fulfilled.  At the same time the EHT could not have formed, nor achieved its goals without the exceptionally hard work and dedication of the entire collaboration.  We strongly feel that this award also acknowledges and celebrates this extraordinary team effort, and we are grateful for having had the opportunity to work with this collaboration on such an exciting project and scientific success."

More detailed, the NAS awards Doeleman "for discovering event horizon scale structures in supermassive black holes through pioneering work in radio interferometry, and for his decades-long leadership in developing instruments and global arrays to produce the first black hole image, opening a new window on gravity and physics."

In the same communication, the NAS formulates about Falcke "for conceiving of black hole imaging using radio interferometry on a global scale, which led to the first image of a supermassive black hole, and for establishing new measurements that provide knowledge for perception and insight into the nature of gravity and physics in extreme conditions."

Doeleman and Falcke conclude their statement: "Now our collaboration is looking forward to the next results on M87 polarization and Sgr A*, and we are also taking new steps towards expansion of the EHT.  This project is as compelling as ever -- there is much more to come."

Further information:

Description of the Henry Draper medal, established in 1886 and presented with a $25,000 prize: http://nasonline.org/programs/awards/henry-draper-medal.html

Announcement at the EHT webpage: https://eventhorizontelescope.org/blog/2021-henry-draper-medal-usa-national-academy-sciences-presented-shep-doeleman-and-heino

Announcement at the National Academy of Sciences: http://www.nasonline.org/programs/awards/henry-draper-medal.html


Press release by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/pz202101

Press release by the Radboud University Nijmegen (English): https://www.ru.nl/astrophysics/news-agenda/news/vm/american-national-academy-sciences-honours-heino/

Video by Radboud University Nijmegen: Link


Project Information

The international collaboration of the Event Horizon Telescope announced the first-ever image of a black hole at the heart of the radio galaxy Messier 87 on April 10, 2019 by creating a virtual Earth-sized telescope. Supported by considerable international investment, the EHT links existing telescopes using novel systems — creating a new instrument with the highest angular resolving power that has yet been achieved.

The individual telescopes involved in the EHT collaboration are: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Atacama Pathfinder EXplorer (APEX), the Greenland Telescope (since 2018), the IRAM 30-meter Telescope, the IRAM NOEMA Observatory (expected 2021), the Kitt Peak Telescope (expected 2021), the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), the Submillimeter Array (SMA), the Submillimeter Telescope (SMT), and the South Pole Telescope (SPT).

The EHT consortium consists of 13 stakeholder institutes; the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the University of Arizona, the University of Chicago, the East Asian Observatory, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Goethe- Universität Frankfurt, the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique, the Large Millimeter Telescope, the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, the MIT Haystack Observatory, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and the Radboud University.