• Congratulations to Professor Andrea Ghez and the Astronomy Community

    October 15, 2020
    Congratulations to Professor Andrea Ghez and the Astronomy Community

    Many Congratulations to Andrea Ghez on the award of the Physics 2020 Nobel Prize for her work on the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

    Andrea Ghez, professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group, shares the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics with two other researchers, Reinhard Genzel Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, and Roger Penrose, professor at the University of Oxford in the UK. All three distinguished researchers are seeing their lifetime work on the study of black holes rewarded by the most prestigious prize in the area of physics. 

    The W.M. Keck telescopes located on the summit of Maunakea, Hawaii, played a key-role in Ghez’s research to study the motion of thousands of stars around Sagittarius A, a bright radio-source located at the center of our galaxy, 26,000 light-years away from Earth. Her research team unambiguously demonstrated that the stars at the center of the Milky Way are orbiting a massive object, invisible to optical light, providing evidence for the existence of a super massive black hole (4 million time the mass of our Sun) at the center of our own galaxy. Black-holes are the remnant of giant stars, at the ultimate stage of their lifecycle. Andrea’s work, over the past two decades, confirmed the formation of thesemysterious objects, which were first predicted by Albert  Einstein’s general theory of relativity. 

    TMT feels honored and privileged to have another Nobel Prize in its close circle. Andrea has been involved with TMT science for a long time, representing UC on the TMT Science Advisory Committee for several years.
    She participated in the early discussions and development of the TMT project. Many aspects of TMT, its advanced Adaptive Optics system (NFIRAOS), and its first-light Infrared Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), have been carefully designed to provide extremely high-resolution images of objects in the universe, at the optical diffraction limit of a thirty-meter telescope. 

    TMT’s cutting-edge technology will allow astronomers, including Nobel Prize winning Andrea Ghez, to study the relativistic physics of supermassive black-holes with an unprecedented resolution and sensitivity.  Using our own Galactic Center as a research laboratory, astronomers will be able to extend these types of observations to beyond the Milky Way in nearby and distant galaxies. Such work will immensely advance our understanding of black holes, when they first formed, how the galactic environment impacts their formation and growth, and how they evolve and feed from the material that surround them.  
      
    As the fourth female Nobel Laureate in Physics, Ghez describes the Prize as "an opportunity and a responsibility to encouraging young women into the sciences and the next generation of scientists”.
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