avatar for Dr. Michael Kramer

Dr. Michael Kramer

Radio astronomer, Max Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy

Since 2009 Kramer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, where he heads the “Fundamental Physics in Radio Astronomy” research group. He is also the German scientific representative of the international SKA organisation; the Square Kilometre Array is a global project for a future radio telescope with revolutionary technology.
In his scientific work, the Max Planck Director focuses on the observation of pulsars - burnt-out, fast rotating stars. Using the J0737-3039 binary pulsar system, he tested predictions of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity with unprecedented accuracy.
Michael Kramer was the first to confirm the existence of the relativistic gyroscopic motion of a pulsar in a binary star system. According to the General Theory of Relativity, the motion of a pulsar in the gravitational field of a companion star leads to a continuous change in the direction of its rotation axis (geodetic precession). In 1998 Kramer succeeded in measuring this predicted change in direction at the 100-metre radio telescope in Effelsberg. In addition, he observed the PSR B1913+16 pulsar, whose discovery earned Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor the Nobel Prize for physics in 1993. In 2008 Michael Kramer won an ERC Advanced Grant of the European Research Council with his project "LEAP (Large European Array for Pulsars)". He is leading the Work Package 5 "Developing SKA as a tool to address global challenges" of the EC project "Go-SKA (283632).
In 2009 Michael Kramer was bestowed with the Marcel Grossmann Award for his fundamental contributions to pulsar astrophysics. In 2013 he was awarded the Herschel Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.