Prof. Dr Ralf-Jürgen Dettmar

Prof. Dr Ralf-Jürgen Dettmar


GAFO 03/963
Tel.: +49 234 32 23454




The research interest focuses on the evolution of galaxies, from the formation phases to the elucidation of today's structure and dynamics. The physics of the interstellar medium in spiral galaxies with the large-scale exchange of matter between the disk and the halo driven by star formation activity is a focal point. To this end, staff and students carry out and analyse observations of the various types of interstellar matter - from thin plasma millions of degrees hot to cosmic rays - at the relevant international observatories. These include radio telescopes in New Mexico (USA) and Australia, as well as observatories in Chile and Spain, or the XMM/Newton space observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope.

By analysing the polarisation properties of radio radiation from galaxies, for example, the large-scale structure of magnetic fields in galaxies has been deciphered in recent years. This work is being pursued further with other research groups within the Ruhr Astroparticle and Plasma Physics (RAPP) Centre. In order to be able to carry out further observations of this kind in previously inaccessible wavelength ranges or with previously unattained accuracy, the Chair of Astronomy is also involved in the development of new instruments and telescopes. These include a spectrograph on what is currently the world's largest optical telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona, and the completely new LOFAR radio telescope centred in the Netherlands.

The investigations of interstellar matter are supplemented by studies of the distribution of stars in spiral galaxies. A combination of the resulting mass distribution of stars in galaxies with the motion of the gas obtained from spectroscopic observations will then also allow conclusions to be drawn about the distribution of the still enigmatic dark matter in galaxies.

The person


1974 Matriculation certificate of the math.-nat.wiss. Walram-Gymnasium Menden, Sauerland
1974 - 1981 Studied physics at the University of Bonn
1981 Dipl.-Phys., University of Bonn
1986 Dr. rer. nat., University of Bonn
1992 Habilitation, University of Bonn

Professional career

1981 - 1983 Research associate at the Geodetic Institute of the University of Bonn
1983 - 1985 Research assistant at the MPI for Radio Astronomy, Bonn, and at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Münster
1985 - 1988 Research associate at the Radioastronomical Institute of the University of Bonn
1985 - 1988 Research fellow of the DFG at the Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ (USA)
1989 - 1992 Research associate at the Radioastronomical Institute of the University of Bonn
1992 - 1994 ESA staff astronomer (Astrophysics Division/Space Science Department) at the Space Telescopse Science Institute (STScl), Baltimore, MD (USA)
since 1994 Professor of Astronomy, Faculty of Physics and Astronomy, Ruhr University Bochum
2002 - 2004,
2011 - 2013
Dean of the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy at the Ruhr University Bochum
2004 - 2006,
2013 - 2014
Vice Dean of the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy at the Ruhr University Bochum

Memberships and commitment

  • International Astronomical Union (IAU/UAI)
  • European Astronomical Society (EAS)
  • German Physical Society (DPG)
  • Scientific Advisory Committee or Science Working Group of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project (2001-2011)
  • Member of Review Board 311 Astronomy and Astrophysics of the DFG (2004-2007)
  • On the Board of the Astronomical Society (2005-2008 as Vice-President, 2008-2011 as President)
  • Member (since 2006) in and Chair (2009-2016) of the Executive Committee of the German Long Wavelength Consortium (GLOW), which coordinates the interests of German astronomy in the participation of the novel LOFAR telescope.
  • Member of the Programme Committee "Exploration of Space" at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) (since 2007)
  • Member (2009-2016) of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics (AIP) Potsdam (2009-2013 Chair and Member of the Board of Trustees)
  • Member (2011-2015) of the ASTRONET (FP7 ERANET) European Radio Telescope Review Committee ERTRC
  • Since 2017, member of the DLR's "Extraterrestrial" (Chair until 2020) and BMBF's "Ground-based Astronomy" (Chair; Vice Chair until 2019) expert committee.
  • Since 2019 Member of the DFG Expert Panel on the NFDI Programme
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