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95th Faculty Research Lecture
Unveiling a Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way
Andrea M. Ghez
Professor , Department of Physics & Astronomy
Institute of Geophysics & Planetary Physics

October 30, 2003

 

Dr. Andrea M. Ghez, professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, is one of the world's leading observational astrophysicists, whose work sheds light on how our Milky Way galaxy, our Sun, and our Earth came to be.

Working in the filed of high precision infrared imaging and spectroscopy, Professor Ghez's research focuses on the origin and early life of stars and planets, and the distribution and nature of the matter at the center of our galaxy. She has demonstrated the existence of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, with a mass more than four million times that of our sun.

Her work challenges us to ask: if a black hole of this enormous mass resides at the center of our own, relatively inactive galaxy, how did it grow to its current size, and what can we learn by analogy about the formation and evolution of galaxies and their central black holes?

In Discover magazine's 20th anniversary issue, Professor Ghez was named one of the top 20 scientists in the country under 40, who have "demonstrated once-in-a-generation insight" and "will likely change our fundamental understanding of the world and our place in it."


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