Eiichiro Komatsu becomes director at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics

Jan. 2012 - With the new year, a new director arrives in Garching: Eiichiro Komatsu relocates from the University of Texas to the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics. With his research interest in the cosmic microwave background and theories of the early universe, he will further strengthen the institute’s investigations of the beginnings and the evolution of the universe.

Fig: Eiichiro Komatsu
Credit: UT-Austin

While Eiichiro Komatsu officially starts his directorship on 1st January 2012, until August he will still spend considerable time at the University of Texas, where he is director of the “Texas Cosmology Center”, an interdisciplinary centre to study the nature of dark matter and dark energy, the origin of matter in the universe and how structures formed and evolved. This centre brings together astronomers and physicists, theory and observations, and therefore mirrors the conditions at MPA to some degree: Also here, there is increasing involvement in observational programmes to apply theoretical models and simulations to the real world, so that they can be further refined.

Komatsu became fascinated by astronomy while at school and went on to study astronomy at the Tohoku University in Japan, graduating with his PhD thesis on “The Pursuit of Non-Gaussian Fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background” in 2001. While working on his doctoral thesis, he joined the WMAP science team at Princeton, and then became an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Texas. Since 2010 he is director of the Texas Cosmology Center. In 2004, he received the Young Astronomers Award from the Astronomical Society of Japan for his work on constraining inflationary models of the early universe and in 2010 the Nishinomiya-Yukawa Memorial Prize for physics for his studies of the early universe, as well as several other awards and fellowships.

At MPA Komatsu will continue his studies of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation. Further research interests include the large-scale structure of the Universe, the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect (named after another MPA director), dark matter and dark energy, as well as the infancy of the Universe: inflationary scenarios, the dark ages and reionisation.