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MPE Highlight of November 2, 2010

Tanaka honoured as "Person of Cultural Merit"

A very high Japanese accolade this year goes to Dr. Yasuo Tanaka, external scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, together with 16 other people chosen for this prestigious award. The high-energy astrophysicist is not only a distinguished member of the global scientific community; he also actively promotes the academic exchange between Japan and foreign countries.

Yasuo Tanaka 2001
Yasuo Tanaka
Copyright: MPE (D. Grupe)
The "Person of Cultural Merit" is awarded annually to persons who made outstanding cultural contributions. The honourees are traditionally announced the same day as those choses for the "Order of Culture", Japans top cultural award, which this year goes to the two Nobel laureates Akira Suzuki and Eiichi Negishi and five others. The two decorations function in tandem to honour persons who have contributed to the advancement and development of Japanese culture in science, arts, sports and other fields. The Order of Culture will be presented on 3 November, Culture Day, at the Imperial Palace, while the Persons of Cultural Merit will receive their awards the following day.

Prof. Tanaka's scientific achievements include pioneering studies of diffuse soft X-ray emission around the solar system, the initiation of iron-line spectroscopy of various cosmic X-ray sources using new X-ray detectors of his own, X-ray detection of the supernova SN1987A, and studies of black holes from stellar-mass ones in X-ray binaries to supermassive ones in active galactic nuclei. To study these objects he managed several Japanese X-ray missions with international partners. During his scientific career he was Professor and Deputy Director-General at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (now JAXA), University of Tokyo, Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the MPE, and Guest Professor at the University of Utrecht and University of Amsterdam. He received many national and international academic awards and distinctions, in Germany 1999 the Eugen and Ilse Seibold-Prize of the the German Research Foundation and 2010 the Order of Merit of the federal state of North-Rhine-Westphalia in January this year, which honoured his achievements in promoting Japanese X-ray astronomy, his time as director of the Bonn office of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in Europe, and his activities in initiating and promoting scientific exchange between Germany and Japan. In 1994-95 he was at the MPE as the winner of the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, and is a visiting scientist at the institute since 1997.


Hannelore Hämmerle internal link Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle
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Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
and Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics
Phone: +49 89 30000-3980
E-Mail:   hannelore.haemmerle

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