Astrophysicist Andrea Ghez ’87 has actually been granted the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, revealed today by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. She shares half of the reward with Reinhard Genzel, “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.” The partner of the reward was granted to Roger Penrose, “for the discovery that great void development is a robust forecast of the basic theory of relativity.”
Ghez got a BS in physics at MIT in 1987, where she began learning mathematics prior to altering to physics. She got her PhD at Caltech in 1992, and is presently a teacher of physics and astronomy at the University of California at Los Angeles.
She is understood for her pioneering operate in utilizing high spatial-resolution imaging methods to study star-forming areas and the supermassive great void referred to as Sagittarius A* at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. In specific, she studies the kinematics, or interactions in between stars, in order to identify the incredibly vibrant area at the galaxy’s center.
Ghez shares half of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics with Genzel, who is teacher emeritus of physics at the University of California at Berkeley. Ghez and Genzel each lead a group of astronomers that has actually concentrated on mapping the brightest stars at the Milky Way’s center, with increasing accuracy. The 2 groups have actually utilized a few of the world’s biggest and most effective telescopes to peer through lots of light years of interstellar gas and dust, to concentrate on the orbits of stars at the galaxy’s center.
Their independent measurements have actually exposed an exceptionally huge, undetectable things that seems pulling on the stars and flinging them around the galaxy’s center at massive speeds.
Their work, according to today’s statement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, “has given us the most convincing evidence yet of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.”
“What Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel did was one of the coolest things ever — revealing stars in the center of our galaxy orbiting a black hole too small to see with a telescope,” states Peter Fisher, teacher and head of MIT’s Department of Physics. “I constantly revealed [their video visualizing this process] when I taught relativity — it is a fantastic method to think of a great void and it reveals the amazing persistence required to do fantastic science.”
“Indeed we now have understood that these behemoths live at the center of most galaxies,” includes Nergis Mavalvala, dean of MIT’s School of Science and the Curtis and Kathleen Marble Professor of Astrophysics. “All of her career, Andrea has been an awe-inspiring scientist and educator, and role model for women and girls. And now, as a Nobel laureate, her groundbreaking science and her story are sure to reach even farther and inspire a generation of young women to pursue careers in science.”
Penrose, who is granted the 2nd half of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics, is teacher emeritus of mathematics at Oxford University. Penrose is understood for utilizing innovative mathematical designs to show that great voids are a direct effect of Albert Einstein’s basic theory of relativity. Einstein himself did not think that great voids might exist. Ten years after Einstein’s death, in January 1965, Penrose showed the presence of great voids and explained them as items that conceal a gravitational singularity — an idea associated to basic relativity, in which all the recognized laws of nature disappear.
In the academy’s statement, David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics, mentioned, “The discoveries of this year’s laureates have broken new ground in the study of compact and supermassive objects. But these exotic objects still pose many questions that beg for answers and motivate future research. Not only questions about their inner structure, but also questions about how to test our theory of gravity under the extreme conditions in the immediate vicinity of a black hole.”
“I hope I can inspire other young women into the field,” Ghez stated at journalism conference. “It’s a field that has so many pleasures, and if you are passionate about the science, there’s so much that can be done.”
Ghez is the 38th MIT graduate to win a Nobel Prize, and the 4th lady to win the Nobel Prize in Physics.
MIT alumna and 2 others honored for discoveries in great void physics.