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 Means 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 discovery of a supermassive compact object at 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 overall concept of relativity.”
“It was a pleasure to listen to the information this morning. The Nobel acknowledges outcomes that constructed on Andrea’s years of excellent, 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 scholar 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 sphere 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 school in 1994, she and her group started mapping stars in a area on the heart of our galaxy generally known as Sagittarius A*, round which all the celebrities within the Milky Means orbit. Ghez and her co-winner Genzel independently developed strategies to higher see via the obscuring clouds of mud that block Earth’s view of the guts 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 ambiance to create sharper pictures.
The work of Ghez and Genzel to map the orbits of stars round Sagittarius A* helped reveal “an especially 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 illustration, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) recently 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 many years,” 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 scholar right here in physics, and she or he perfected the usage of adaptive optics on the W. M. Keck telescopes, which led to the spectacular outcomes for which she was acknowledged at present.”
Not too long ago, Ghez and her group introduced work that quantities to the “most complete check of Albert Einstein’s iconic normal concept of relativity close to the monstrous black gap on the heart of our galaxy,” in accordance with a UCLA news release about 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 lady to win the Nobel Prize in Physics (the primary was Marie Curie in 1903), was the primary lady 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.
Thus far, 40 Caltech alumni and school have received a complete of 41 Nobel Prizes.
Learn Andrea Ghez Wins Share of 2020 Nobel Prize for Discoveries in Black Hole Physics for extra on this subject.