UCLA scientist and Keck Observatory user Andrea Ghez has been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. She shares the prize with two other researchers; Roger Penrose, a British mathematical physicist and German astrophysicist Reinhard Genzel, for work in black holes and galaxies.
There is no Nobel prize in astronomy and the Nobel in physics has traditionally gone to scientists involved in hard physics for discoveries of some new theory or subatomic particle. It is only in recent years that we have seen a few Nobel prizes awarded to astronomers.
Andrea is the only Nobel recipient I have known personally. I can say one thing, she completely deserves it. While her scientific achievements may justify the award, her activities beyond the science are just as commendable.
The island is home to a vibrant community of photographers, a mix of professionals and serious amateurs. There is one set of photos everyone, and I do mean everyone wants… Dual lasers on the Milky Way.
Just occasionally both of the keck telescopes, and both lasers, are focused on the center of the galaxy, both stabbing right at the heart of the Milky Way.
Opportunities to see and photograph this are few, and occur strictly during the summer months of June to August, when the Milky Way is high overhead. furthermore, these opportunities occur only when Andre Ghez and her UCLA Galactic Center Group have both telescopes scheduled.
July 25th was such a night, a good opportunity to get both lasers. Andrea’s group has the first half of the night, turning over the ‘scopes to other astronomers just after midnight. Actually there were a few nights this particular week, we just chose the 25th. After this galactic center season is over, at least until next year.
UCLA professor and longtime W. M. Keck Observatory astronomer, Andrea Ghez will be awarded the 2015 Bakerian Medal, the Royal Society’s premiere prize lecture in the physical sciences, the organization announced this week.
“I’m thrilled to receive the Bakerian Medal from the Royal Society,” said Ghez, who is UCLA’s Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Professor of Astrophysics. “The research that is being recognized is the product of a wonderful collaboration among the scientists in the UCLA Galactic Center Group and the University of California’s tremendous investment in the W. M. Keck Observatory. Having cutting-edge tools and a great team makes discovery easy.”
The medal is accompanied by a cash prize of 10,000 pounds (approximately $15,500), and Ghez will deliver the Bakerian Lecture in London in November. The organization, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, cited Ghez’s “acclaimed discoveries using the techniques of optical astronomy, especially her sustained work on the motions and nature of the stars orbiting the black hole in the centre of our Galaxy.”
“All the data for this project came from Keck Observatory,” Ghez said. “We were able to launch this project 20 years ago because of the unique way that Keck Observatory works. We were able to modify instrumentation and try new approaches to data collection in a way that simply isn’t possible at other observatories. Working at Keck Observatory and with the staff there has been an amazing experience.”
The mystery about a thin, bizarre object in the center of the Milky Way headed toward our galaxy’s enormous black hole has been solved by UCLA astronomers using the W. M. Keck Observatory, home of the two largest telescopes on Earth. The scientists studied the object, known as G2, during its closest approach to the black hole this summer, and found the black hole did not dine on it. The research is published today in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
While some scientists believed the object was a cloud of hydrogen gas that would be torn apart in a fiery show, Ghez and her team proved it was much more interesting.
“G2 survived and continues happily on its orbit; a gas cloud would not do that,” said Andrea Ghez, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy who holds the Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Chair in Astrophysics, and directs the UCLA Galactic Center Group. “G2 was completely unaffected by the black hole; no fireworks.”
Instead, the team has demonstrated it is a pair of binary stars that had been orbiting the black hole in tandem and merged together into an extremely large star, cloaked in gas and dust, and choreographed by the black hole’s powerful gravitational field.
“G2 is not alone,” said Ghez, who uses Keck Observatory to study thousands of stars in the neighborhood of the supermassive black hole. “We’re seeing a new class of stars near the black hole, and as a consequence of the black hole.”
Ghez and her colleagues — who include lead author Gunther Witzel, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar in Ghez’s research group, and Mark Morris, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy — studied the event with both of the 10-meter telescopes at Keck Observatory.
The Galactic Center Group at UCLA has used the W. M. Keck Observatory for the past two decades to observe the center of the Milky Way at the highest angular resolution possible. This work established the existence of a supermassive black hole at the heart of our Galaxy. In this talk, Dr. Leo Meyer, Research Scientist for the UCLA Galactic Center Group, will focus on the black hole itself and the gas that it swallows. The feeding of the black hole is a turbulent process resulting in highly variable emission of infrared light. Observations of this variability provide a great way to learn about the black hole and its immediate environment.
Zooming into the Center of our Galaxy Dr. Leo Meyer – UCLA
May 20, 2014
Show starts at 7 p.m.
Kahilu Theatre, Waimea
Today, UCLA astronomers using the W. M. Keck Observatory reported the discovery of a remarkable star that orbits the enormous black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy in a blistering 11-and-a-half years, the shortest known orbit of any star near this black hole.
The star, known as S0-102, may help astronomers discover whether Albert Einstein was right in his fundamental prediction of how black holes warp space and time, said Andrea Ghez, leader of the discovery team and professor of physics and astronomy, who holds UCLA’s Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Chair in Astrophysics, and is a co-author. The research is published Oct. 5 in the journal Science.
Before this discovery, astronomers knew of only one star near the black hole with a very short orbit: S0-2, which Ghez used to call her “favorite star” and whose orbit is 16 years. (The “S” is for Sagittarius, the constellation containing the galactic center; its name is Latin for the archer.)
A Keck Observatory astronomer who led the way to the discovery of a super-massive black hole at the center of our galaxy has been recognized this week with the 2012 Crafoord Prize in Astronomy, an award almost as prestigious for astronomers as a Nobel Prize.
“This is a big one. I’m thrilled,” said Andrea Ghez of the University of California at Los Angeles. For more than 16 years Ghez and her team have been pushing the frontiers of high-resolution imaging technologies with the twin 10-meter Keck telescopes in order to explore the center of the Milky Way. By tracking the rapid, small-scale orbits of stars at the Galactic Center, they discovered the presence of a source of tremendous gravity – the best evidence yet that a supermassive black hole exists there. The reality of such an object confronts and challenges our knowledge of fundamental physics.