Volker Springel

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Volker Springel (born November 18, 1970 in Backnang ) is a German astrophysicist and cosmologist . He is director at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics , where he heads the numerical astrophysics department.


From 1991, Springel studied physics at the University of Tübingen as a scholarship holder of the German National Academic Foundation (with a one-year stay as an exchange student at the University of Berkeley in 1994/95) with a diploma in 1996 at the University of Tübingen with Hanns Ruder and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics at Simon White ( Topology and Luminosity Function of the PSCz Redshift Survey ). In 2000 he received his doctorate in astrophysics ( On the formation and evolution of galaxies ) at the MPI for Astrophysics and the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich under Simon White . As a post-doctoral student he was at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University, worked briefly as a management consultant and then was at the MPI for Astrophysics in Garching, where he was permanently employed in 2003 and became group leader from 2005. From 2010 to 2018 he was Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Heidelberg and Head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). In 2012 he became an external member of the Max Planck Society at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg and since 2018 he has been a scientific member and director at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching.

Research areas

Springel is particularly concerned with numerical simulations of the formation of the most varied of galaxy shapes . For example, he played a key role in the Millennium Simulation , which kept the supercomputers at the MPI's computer center busy for a month and simulated the development of a cube with an edge length of 2 billion light years with around 20 million galaxies. Another field of research are numerical simulations to elucidate the role of dark matter (for example by simulating different cosmological models of dark energy and dark matter) and possible experiments to discover them (e.g. from annihilation ).

Springel and colleagues also simulated the evolution and collision of galaxies with supermassive black holes . He found that quasars initially formed that release so much energy that the gas is ejected from the vicinity of the black hole and further star formation is suppressed and also the further growth of the supermassive black hole. This also solved a problem of simulating galaxy formation in the early cosmos, which resulted in a much higher star density than was observed. They could also explain the relationship between the mass of the black hole and the speed distribution of the stars in the galaxy and predicted that the quasar phase would be limited to 100 million years.


In 2004 Springel received the Heinz Maier Leibnitz Prize and in 2000 the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society . In 2009 he received the Klung Wilhelmy Weberbank Prize for his work in numerical astrophysics, in particular on the formation of galaxies and superheavy black holes. In 2013 he received an ERC Consolidator Grant.

From 2006 to 2011 he was a member of the Junge Akademie , which is supported by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the Leopoldina. In 2016, Volker Springel was elected a member ( matriculation number 7681 ) of the Leopoldina . He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2020 . For 2020 he received (together with Lars Hernquist ) the Gruber Prize for Cosmology .


  • with Simon D. White , G. Tormen, G. Kauffmann: Populating a cluster of galaxies - I. Results at z = 0, Monthly Notices Roy. Astr. Soc., Vol. 328, 2001, pp. 726-750
  • with N. Yoshida, SDM White: GADGET: a code for collisionless and gasdynamical cosmological simulations, New Astronomy, Volume 6, 2001, pp. 79–117
  • The formation of the galaxies . In: Physics Journal . tape 2 , no. 6 , 2003, p. 31-38 ( online ).
  • with L. Hernquist: Cosmological smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations: a hybrid multiphase model for star formation, Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc., Vol. 339, 2003, pp. 289-311
  • The Millennium Simulation - On the trail of the galaxies with a supercomputer . In: Stars and Space . tape 45 , November 1, 2006, p. 30-40 .
  • with Simon White: Fitting the universe on a supercomputer . In: Computing in Science Engineering . tape 1 , no. 2 , April 1999, p. 36-45 , doi : 10.1109 / 5992.753045 .
  • Supercomputers in cosmology . In: Computer Science Spectrum . tape 32 , no. 6 , 2009, p. 449-457 , doi : 10.1007 / s00287-009-0385-y .
  • with T. Di Matteo, L. Hernquist: Modeling feedback from stars and black holes in galaxy mergers, Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc., Vol. 361, 2005, pp. 776-794
  • with Tiziana Di Matteo, Lars Hernquist : Energy input from quasars regulates the growth and activity of black holes and their host galaxies , Nature, Volume 433, 2005, pp. 604-607
  • The Cosmological simulation code GADGET-2 , Mon.Not.Roy.Astron.Soc., Volume 364, 2005, pp. 1105-1134
  • with others: Simulating the joint evolution of quasars, galaxies and their large-scale distribution , Nature, Volume 435, 2005, pp. 629-636
  • with SDM White, CS Frenk u. a .: Simulations of the formation, evolution and clustering of galaxies and quasars, Nature, Volume 435, 2005, p. 629
  • with Darren J. Croton, Simon White, CS Frenk, G. De Lucia, L. Gao, A. Jenkins, G. Kauffmann, JF Navarro, N. Yoshida: The Many lives of AGN: Cooling flows, black holes and the luminosities and colors of galaxies , Mon.Not.Roy.Astron.Soc., Volume 365, 2006, pp. 11-28, Erratum: Mon.Not.Roy.Astron.Soc., Volume 367, 2006, p. 864
  • with PF Hopkins, Hernquist, Di Matteo, TJ Cox, B. Robertson: A unified, merger-driven model of the origin of starbursts, quasars, the cosmic X-ray background, supermassive black holes, and galaxy spheroids, Astroph. J. Suppl. Ser., Volume 163, 2006, p. 1
  • with J. Wang u. a .: The Aquarius Project: the subhaloes of galactic haloes , Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 391, 2008, pp. 1685-1711


  • Leopoldina (Ed.): Leopoldina Newly Elected Members 2016 . Halle (Saale) 2017, p. 46 ( leopoldina.org [PDF]).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Volker Springel appointed director at the MPA. In: MPA press release. October 5, 2017, accessed April 18, 2019 .
  2. Prof. Dr. Volker Springel. In: imprs-astro.mpg.de. Retrieved April 18, 2019 .
  3. For example Aquarius Project, simulation of the development of the dark matter halo of a galaxy, V. Springel et al: The Aquarius Project: the subhaloes of galactic haloes . In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society . tape 391 , no. 4 , 2008, p. 1685-1711 , doi : 10.1111 / j.1365-2966.2008.14066.x , arxiv : 0809.0898 .
  4. Colliding galaxies awaken sleeping black holes. MPG, February 9, 2005, accessed on May 5, 2019 .
  5. ^ Tiziana Di Matteo, Volker Springel, Lars Hernquist : Energy input from quasars regulates the growth and activity of black holes and their host galaxies . In: Nature . tape 433 , 2005, pp. 604–607 , doi : 10.1038 / nature03335 (English).
  6. Member entry by Prof. Dr. Volker Springel (with picture) at the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , accessed on June 3, 2016.