Michael Backes

Research & Institution

Institutional Contact

University of Namibia

Department of Physics

Private Bag 13301

340 Mandume Ndemufayo Ave




Dr Michael Backes is Senior Lecturer and head of the Namibian H.E.S.S. group in the Department of Physics, University of Namibia as well as Extraordinary Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Space Research, North-West University (South Africa).

During his post-graduate studies at TU Dortmund University, Michael Backes spend study visits at the Ruhr-University Bochum (D) in 2005 and the University of Birmingham (UK) in 2006 to attend astrophysics classes. He conducted the research for his Diplom Thesis (M.Sc.; 2008) and his Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D.; 2012) in the Astroparticle Physics group at TU Dortmund University. There he held the positions of a Graduate Teaching Assistant (2006-2008), Research Assistant (2008-2010) and, later, as Research Associate (2012-2013). His Ph.D. thesis focused on the investigation of emission properties of a specific Active Galactic Nucleus, employing gamma-ray and multi-wavelength observations. Meanwhile, he was an active member of the FACT (First g-Apd Cherenkov Telescope) and MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov telescopes) collaborations. The FACT collaboration successfully set up the world's first Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescope (IACT) utilizing a camera based on semi-conductor light sensors, dubbed G-APDs. The MAGIC collaboration operated a twin-system of the (then) world's largest IACTs and made enormous discoveries like the first detection of very high energy gamma-rays from a pulsar and from an extremely distant active galaxy (both published in Science). Additionally, he was strongly engaged in the Collaborative Research Center SFB 876: "Providing Information by Resource Constrained Data Analysis", an interdisciplinary research centre on data analysis. In that context he worked with statisticians and computer scientists on both, periodicity detection in unevenly sampled data and on an optimal signal/background separation for gamma-ray astronomy. In 2013, he joined the University of Namibia as Lecturer and conducts research in gamma-ray astronomy with H.E.S.S., the world-leading IACT system, and the planning of the next generation IACT project, the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA). In 2015, he got appointed as the group leader of the Namibian H.E.S.S. group and since promotion in 2016, Dr Backes is employed as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of Namibia. Recently, Dr Backes got appointed as Extraordinary Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Space Research, North-West University (South Africa).

Awards & Affiliations


UNAM Faculty of Science Meritorious Award 2017