Danish Astronomer to Receive Major Research Award

ANNUAL AWARD Jens Hjorth, professor and director of the Dark Cosmology Centre at the University of Copenhagen, will receive the Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award in Science and Technology on January 23, 2017. The 5 million kroner prize is Denmark’s largest individual researcher prize and acknowledges Jens Hjorth’s research in cosmology, including gamma-ray burst breakthroughs that were deemed among the top 10 international scientific breakthroughs in both 2003 and 2005.

research award

Jens Hjorth directs the University of Copenhagen’s Dark Cosmology Centre (DARK). Among other things, the centre contributes to a growing body of knowledge about the ‘dark universe’ – the dark matter and dark energy that accounts for 95% of the universe. He is thrilled to be receiving the award.

– I am tremendously honoured to receive this distinguished award, one that will allow me to pursue research in areas that fascinate me, and more. For example, I am extremely interested in finding out if heavy elements like gold and solids – based on silicon and carbon that our Earth is composed of – were created in violent explosions in the universe,” says Hjorth.

Jens Hjorth is particularly well known for his work on gamma-ray bursts. He was the first to document the occurrence of long gamma-ray bursts in explosions from far-off supernovas. The discovery precipitated a paradigm shift in the field.

Jens Hjorth also headed research during the first witnessing of visible light from a short gamma-ray burst, an event that lasted for less than two seconds. Jens Hjorth was able to show that short gamma-ray bursts are emitted as extremely dense stars merge into one.

Besides his research and activity as director at DARK, Jens Hjorth wants to continue to spend his time training future generations of astronomers and physicists:

– “I’m an astronomer in order to expand our awareness and break new boundaries. We cannot anticipate what lies ahead. A new world view perhaps?”

VILLUM FONDEN researcher director and professor Thomas Sinkjær looks forward to the occasion:

– “We at VILLUM FONDEN are thrilled to honour outstanding and curious researchers like Jens Hjorth, who, through his long commitment to astronomy research, has contributed to a new revelation. A revelation that, in some areas in his field, has led to a paradigm shift. Besides being an outstanding researcher, Jens Hjorth is an accomplished head of research who has assembled a highly professional and diverse research team – an increasingly important precondition for understanding complex issues,” says professor and research director Thomas Sinkjær of VILLUM FONDEN.