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Andrea Ghez ’87 wins a share of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics | MIT Information

Astrophysicist Andrea Ghez ’87 has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, introduced right now by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. She shares half of the prize with Reinhard Genzel, “for the invention of a supermassive compact object on the heart of our galaxy.” The opposite half of the prize was awarded to Roger Penrose, “for the invention that black gap formation is a strong prediction of the overall concept of relativity.”

Ghez acquired a BS in physics at MIT in 1987, the place she began out majoring in arithmetic earlier than altering to physics. She acquired her PhD at Caltech in 1992, and is presently a professor of physics and astronomy on the College of California at Los Angeles.

She is understood for her pioneering work in utilizing excessive spatial-resolution imaging strategies to review star-forming areas and the supermassive black gap generally known as Sagittarius A* on the heart of the Milky Means Galaxy. Particularly, she research the kinematics, or interactions between stars, as a way to characterize the extraordinarily dynamic area on the galaxy’s heart.

Ghez shares half of this yr’s Nobel Prize in Physics with Genzel, who’s professor emeritus of physics on the College of California at Berkeley. Ghez and Genzel every lead a crew of astronomers that has centered on mapping the brightest stars on the Milky Means’s heart, with rising precision. The 2 teams have used a number of the world’s largest and strongest telescopes to see by many mild years of interstellar fuel and mud, to give attention to the orbits of stars on the galaxy’s heart.

Their unbiased measurements have revealed an extremely large, invisible object that seems to be pulling on the celebs and flinging them across the galaxy’s heart at monumental speeds.

Their work, in accordance with right now’s announcement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, “has given us essentially the most convincing proof but of a supermassive black gap on the centre of the Milky Means.”

“What Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel did was one of many coolest issues ever — revealing stars within the heart of our galaxy orbiting a black gap too small to see with a telescope,” says Peter Fisher, professor and head of MIT’s Division of Physics. “I at all times confirmed [their video visualizing this process] after I taught relativity — it’s an effective way to consider a black gap and it exhibits the unimaginable endurance wanted to do nice science.”
“Certainly we now have understood that these behemoths reside on the heart of most galaxies,” provides Nergis Mavalvala, dean of MIT’s College of Science and the Curtis and Kathleen Marble Professor of Astrophysics. „All of her profession, Andrea has been an awe-inspiring scientist and educator, and function mannequin for girls and women. And now, as a Nobel laureate, her groundbreaking science and her story are certain to succeed in even farther and encourage a era of younger girls to pursue careers in science.”

Penrose, who’s awarded the second half of this yr’s Nobel Prize in physics, is professor emeritus of arithmetic at Oxford College. Penrose is understood for utilizing ingenious mathematical fashions to show that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s basic concept of relativity. Einstein himself didn’t imagine that black holes might exist. Ten years after Einstein’s dying, in January 1965, Penrose proved the existence of black holes and described them as objects that cover a gravitational singularity — an idea associated to basic relativity, through which all of the identified legal guidelines of nature stop to exist.

Within the academy’s announcement, David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics, acknowledged, “The discoveries of this yr’s laureates have damaged new floor within the research of compact and supermassive objects. However these unique objects nonetheless pose many questions that beg for solutions and inspire future analysis. Not solely questions on their inside construction, but in addition questions on learn how to take a look at our concept of gravity below the intense situations within the fast neighborhood of a black gap.”

“I hope I can encourage different younger girls into the sector,” Ghez stated on the press convention. “It’s a area that has so many pleasures, and in case you are passionate concerning the science, there’s a lot that may be performed.”

Ghez is the thirty eighth MIT graduate to win a Nobel Prize, and the fourth lady to win the Nobel Prize in Physics.


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