Andrea Ghez (Caltech MS ’89, PhD ’92), the Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Professor of Astrophysics at UCLA, has received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for pioneering analysis that helped reveal a supermassive black gap lurking on the heart of the Milky Manner galaxy. She shares half the Nobel Prize with Reinhard Genzel of UC Berkeley and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. Collectively, Ghez and Genzel are being honored “for the invention of a supermassive compact object on the centre of our galaxy.”
The opposite half of the Nobel Prize goes to Roger Penrose of the College of Oxford, “for the invention that black gap formation is a strong prediction of the final principle of relativity.”
“It was a pleasure to listen to the information this morning. The Nobel acknowledges outcomes that constructed on Andrea’s years of very good, exact, and forward-looking observations on the W.M. Keck Observatory,” says Anneila Sargent (MS ’67, PhD ’77), Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus, at Caltech. “It was clear from her pupil days at Caltech that Andrea had what it took to make her mark.”
At Caltech, Ghez’s PhD advisor was the late Gerry Neugebauer (PhD ’60), previously the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Physics, Emeritus, and a founding father of the sector of infrared astronomy. Ghez’s PhD thesis seemed on the frequency of multiple-star techniques and stellar evolution utilizing Caltech’s Palomar Observatory. She was named a Caltech Distinguished Alumna in 2012.
At UCLA, the place Ghez joined the college in 1994, she and her workforce started mapping stars in a area on the heart of our galaxy often known as Sagittarius A*, round which all the celebs within the Milky Manner orbit. Ghez and her co-winner Genzel independently developed strategies to higher see by the obscuring clouds of mud that block Earth’s view of the center of the galaxy. Ghez helped advance adaptive optics methods used on the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Adaptive optics corrects for the earth’s turbulent environment to create sharper photos.
The work of Ghez and Genzel to map the orbits of stars round Sagittarius A* helped reveal “a particularly heavy, invisible object that pulls on the jumble of stars, inflicting them to hurry round at dizzying speeds,” in accordance with the Nobel Prize press launch. This analysis demonstrated that the central invisible object, which has a mass equal to that of four million suns, is a supermassive black gap. Supermassive black holes are a lot heftier than the stellar-mass ones sprinkled all through galaxies; as an example, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) lately detected the merging of two black holes that resulted in a brand new black gap of 142 photo voltaic lots.
“That is extremely well-deserved recognition for Andrea’s exceptionally cautious work carried out over many a long time,” says Fiona Harrison, the Harold A. Rosen Professor of Physics and the Kent and Joyce Kresa Management Chair of the Division of Physics, Arithmetic and Astronomy at Caltech. “She started growing methods for high-angular decision astronomical imaging whereas she was a graduate pupil right here in physics, and he or she perfected the usage of adaptive optics on the W. M. Keck telescopes, which led to the spectacular outcomes for which she was acknowledged at the moment.”
Not too long ago, Ghez and her workforce introduced work that quantities to the “most complete take a look at of Albert Einstein’s iconic common principle of relativity close to the monstrous black gap on the heart of our galaxy,” in accordance with a UCLA information launch concerning the Nobel Prize announcement.
She is a member of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a MacArthur Fellow. Ghez, who’s the fourth girl to win the Nobel Prize in Physics (the primary was Marie Curie in 1903), was the primary girl to obtain the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ prestigious Crafoord Prize, and has acquired quite a few different honors. In 2019, she was awarded an honorary diploma by the College of Oxford.
To this point, 40 Caltech alumni and college have received a complete of 41 Nobel Prizes.
Learn Andrea Ghez Wins Share of 2020 Nobel Prize for Discoveries in Black Gap Physics for extra on this matter.