Anton Zensus

Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy


Astrophysicist and Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy

Leader of the Research Division for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI)

Chair of the Board of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

Coordinator of RadioNet – a project funded by the European Union under Horizon 2020

Board of Directors of the European VLBI Network

Council of the Joint Institute for VLBI European Research Infrastructure

RadioAstron International Science Council

Physics and astronomy in Cologne and Münster – Doctorate in 1984

Postdoc at the California Institute of Technology and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)

Basic research staff at NRAO, with tenure from Associated Universities, Inc.

Director at the MPIfR since 1997

Professor (hon.) at the University of Cologne since 2005

Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes 1982

Alexander-von-Humboldt Forschungspreis 1994

Max-Planck-Forschungspreis 1999

RadioAstron Bronze Medal Astro Space Center Moscow 2010

Golden Medal Institute of Applied Astronomy St. Petersburg 2013

Breakthrough Prize for Fundamental Physics with the Event Horizon Collaboration 2020


Anton and his team of astronomers at the Max-Planck-Institute study galaxies in the Universe.

They have been contributing for many years to advancing a specialized technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry, which connects sensitive telescopes around the World. This Earth-size virtual telescope achieves the highest imaging resolution by observing at the shortest radio wavelengths and with antennas in space. 

These developments were accompanied by innovations in image reconstruction and these advances in sensitivity and imaging resolution were crucial steps for the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which was used to image for the first time a supermassive Black Hole in the centre of the galaxy M87. 

The group operates one of the world’s most powerful VLBI correlation centers and it makes state-of-the-art technology development for future VLBI applications.

Anton’s research is published in the professional astronomical literature. Recent results are available as preprints before publication.

Astronomy at Highest Resolution


Global Science

Anton Zensus and his group have been developing VLBI at millimeter waves since 1994 and they are key contributors to the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which in 2019 published the first image of a Black Hole.

The image of the black hole in M87, made possible only through a world-wide collaboration, is widely considered one of the most important scientific results of the decade.  An estimated more than one billion people have seen the image and the EHT Collaboration received the 2020 Breakthrough Prize 2020 for this achievement.

Anton is leading his team on par with the world-leading research groups in the Event Horizon Collaboration. At the same time he holds responsibility for the whole collaboration as Chair of the Collaboration Board.

Anton Zensus is the Coordinator of RadioNet. With national and European Union funding, the premier radio astronomy facilities in Europe – telescopes and development laboratories – collaborate in this EU Horizon 2020 project.
They offer trans-national access to observatories and pursue technical development and networking activities.

The GMVA offers peer-reviewed observing opportunities for all scientists to VLBI observations at 3mm.

The MPIfR is a founding member of the European VLBI network and the Effelsberg radio telescope is the centerpiece of the array since 1984.

The Russian satellite made possinble VLBI observations with baseline lengths of almost the distance of Earth to Moon and it gave an unprecedented opportunity for astronomical observations with extreme resolution.

Supporting Young Scientists

Anton Zensus is Founding Director and Speaker of the International Max-Planck-Research School (IMPRS) for Astronomy and Astrophysics, at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne.

In his research group at the MPIfR, doctoral students work on their dissertations guided by experienced researchers, with 3-year funding from the Max-Planck-Society.

Anton supports young research leaders as mentor in the Elisabeth-Schiemann-Kolleg and in the Mentoring Programm of the Deutsche Gesellschaft der Humboldtianer.

Promoting Talent

Talk About Science

Public Talks

Anton interacts with other researchers in his scientific lectures.

In his public lectures he explains complex scientific research results to non-experts.

As a keynote speaker he places his international experience in managing basic research and in the training of the next generation of researchers into the contexts of society and business.

Join the Team

Anton Zensus encourages postdocs to join ongoing research projects in his department, e.g., with the EHT and GMVA, and they may also pursue independent research directions.

Doctoral candidates interested to do dissertation research in Anton’s group should apply through the IMPRS programme:

Research projects for students working on their Master’s thesis are guided by experienced scientists in Anton’s group.