Evening mood on Llano de Chajantor (Chile), with the silhouette of the APEX telescope against gathering clouds of a (rare) winter storm (picture: A.Lundgren).

Rolf Güsten
(sub)millimeter Astronomer
Head of the Division for Submillimeter Technologies
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie






Diplom in Physics 1977
Dr. rer.nat. 1981


Auf dem Hügel 69
53121 Bonn




Phone:  +49 (0)228-525383
Fax:       +49 (0)228-525488

Research Projects
To this day, my fascination about the unique scientific and technological opportunities of submillimetre/ far-infrared astronomy remains unbroken. Consequently, my astronomical research interests focus on the warm dense interstellar medium as accessible via its submm/FIR emission (lines), with the objectives to understand how the nuclei of galaxies (including the center of the Milky Way) evolve, form stars, governed by which physical processes. Currently, central research projects are:

  • In 2005 the 12-m APEX telescope, a masterpiece of antenna engineering, opened new horizons. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to manage this outstanding project through the commissioning phase into suc­cessful science verification. Operated with a suite of state-of-the-art instruments, most of them build in-house, the APEX evolved to a world-leading submm facility that enables research in basically all the atmospheric windows that are accessible for a ground-based facility on an exceptional, high site like Llano de Chajnantor. The unique sensitivities of these detectors do now allow studies of the warm interstellar medium in nearby extragalactic nuclei and the Galactic center that have not been possible before.

  • Pushing curiositiy even further, to supra-Terahertz frequencies, we are collaborating in today's most ambitious far-infrared missions: Herschel and SOFIA. For HIFI, the heterodyne instrument onboard of Herschel, my Division has been responsible for the development of the Local Oscillator unit. Utilizing the mission, I'm Principal Investigator of the HexGal GT key program that will investigate the Physical and Chemical Conditions of the ISM in Galactic Nuclei. I lead the studies of SNR shocks as part of the key program on The Dense and Warm Interstellar Medium.

  • For the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, operating a 2.5 m telescope in a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft, we develop (as PI of a German consortium) GREAT - a modular dual-channel heterodyne instrument for high-resolution spectroscopy up to 4.7 THz. With GREAT uniquely important FIR spectral lines, from atomic fine-structure transitions to fundamental rotational transitions of hydride molecules (most importantly, the ground-state transition of HD) will be studied velocity resolved - complementary to the direct detection instruments flying on Herschel.

To learn more about any these exciting projects and the enabling technologies behind, simply follow the links above, or check out the webpages of the Division for Submm Technologies.

Curriculum vitae
Publications (re-directed to libraries maintained by ADS)
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