Anton Zensus
Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy


Anton Zensus is a Scientific Member of the Max-Planck-Society and Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy. He is leading the Research Division for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI).

Founding Chair of the Board of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration (Chair 2017-2020)

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

Scientific Coordinator for the OPTICON-RADIONET Pilot under Horizon 2020

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

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 – Cologne and Münster – Doctorate in 1984

Postdoctoral Researcher at the California Institute of Technology and National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) 1985-1991

Basic Research Staff Scientist at NRAO since 1991 and tenure from Associated Universities 1996; Adjunct Scientist since 1997

Scientific Member of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy since 1997

Professor (hon.) – University of Cologne Institute for Astrophysics 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 2020, with the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

Bruno Rossi Prize 2020, Einstein Medal 2021,  Group Award of the Royal Astronomical Society 2021, with the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration (more awards here)

Founding Chair of the Board – Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration 2020

Scientific and organisational evaluation in visiting committees

Mentoring for high-potential starting research leaders

Coaching for scientific and executive leaders

Public Lecturer and Keynote Speaker



Anton Zensus and his team of astronomers at the Max-Planck-Institute study the jets and cores of galaxies in the Universe, which harbour massive Black Holes. They use sensitive radio telescopes around the World and in Space and they are major contributors in the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which made the first image of a Black Hole.

The central tool for this research is the specialised astronomical technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry. This connects radio telescopes thousands of kilometers apart. This Earth-size virtual telescope achieves the highest imaging resolution by observing at the shortest radio wavelengths and with antennas in space. 

.Anton and his colleagues have been advancing this research method to new limits for over thirty years, and along he way they made a steady stream of astronomical discoveries about active galaxies and their central nuclei.


The group operates one of the World’s most powerful VLBI correlation centers.

They also make innovative and state-of-the-art technology development for current and future VLBI applications.

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. 

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.


Anton Zensus believes in giving back to society and the scientific community through training and fostering young scientists. He is committed as mentor and coach to supporting high-potential starting scientific leaders, sharing his experience as a scientist, head of a World-class research department and leader in international scientific endeavours. 

Anton is a mentor in the Elisabeth-Schiemann-Kolleg for female research leaders on the way to top positions and in the Mentoring Programme of the Deutsche-Gesellschaft der Humboldtianer.

Starting research group leaders may face challenges that are not unique to their situation but often come with transitioning from individual early-career research to leading one’s own research group, while at the same time they themselves are competing for top level appointments.

Coaching can be a sensible and useful approach to addressing individual specific issues and to leadership in a scientific team. 

Anton Zensus is professionally trained as a certified systemic coach and as such he is dedicated to a principle-based and person-centric approach to supporting his mentees. 

Individuals associated with the the Max-Planck-Society, in astrophysics or in other fields especially in the natural sciences, may contact Anton Zensus about mentoring or coaching at

All other inquiries from individuals or organizations interested in working with Anton as speaker, consultant or coach may be sent to

Promoting Talent

Talking About Science

Public Talks

In his public lectures Anton Zensus explains complex scientific research results to non-experts. („As simple as possible but not simpler“). He tells his stories of scientific discoveries and he shares with his audience his personal experience as researcher and scientific leader.

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.

Contact Anton Zensus with inquiries about scientific colloquia and lectures at universities, research institutes or conferences, public talks, interviews or media productions at

All other inquiries from individuals or commercial organizations interested in working with Anton as speaker, consultant or coach may be sent to

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.

If you are a interested in a postdoctoral research position, write to or look for current postings below.

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

Research projects for students working on their Master’s thesis are guided by experienced scientists in Anton’s group. Hourly work contracts as „Studentische Hilskraft“ are available for eligible and qualified students.

Send inquiries for working with us for your Master‘s thesis to Prof. Eduardo Ros at

The Max-Planck-Society and its institutes are committed against any sort of discrimination of individuals for any reasons.  The MPG has a comprehensive set of provisions to foster a diverse, multi-cultural and inclusive environment.

Violations are not tolerated and will be appropriately addressed. Criticisms and complaints may be raised anonymously and they will be followed up.

All employees are bound to abide by a society-wide code-of-conduct, rules of scientific conduct as well as Germany’s comprehensive relevant national legislation. Employee training relevant to this topic is available. There is an ombuds system for scientific conduct issues, and comprehensive nationally governed worker‘s protection.

Anton Zensus as Director is committed to ensure for researchers and any staff that the department is enabling top-class research and maintaining a collegial,  fair, safe and supporting working atmosphere. 

Anton supports personal professional development and specific measures, such as individual leadership development or soft skills and intercultural training  for doctoral candidates.

Anton has been guiding since 2018 an institute-wide project, which conducted an employee climate and physical/mental health survey, which was useful in identifying problem areas and suggesting improvements.

Anton guided the development of an equal opportunity plan for the MPIfR.

All doctoral students in Anton‘s group have an experienced scientist guiding their research and a thesis committee, including Anton as examiner and other experts, with full access to employee protection provisions, at all times.

All postdoctoral researchers have regular opportunities with group leadership to discuss career aspects and concerns.