Public Aaronson Memorial Lecture Zeroes in on Milky Way's Black Hole

Feb. 13, 2007

More than a quarter century ago, astronomers began to suspect that such galaxies as our own Milky Way harbor massive black holes at their cores.

Astronomers no longer suspect that our Milky Way harbors a central black hole -- they know it.

Professor Andrea Ghez of the University of California Los Angeles heads a team that for the past 10 years has been taking very sharp pictures of how stars near the center of our galaxy move. The research proves that the Milky Way certainly has a black hole.

Ghez will give a public talk about the discovery at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, in Steward Observatory Room 210 on The University of Arizona campus. Her lecture, "Unvealing a Supermassive Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy," is the 2007 Marc Aaronson Memorial Lecture. Admission is free.

Ghez received her doctorate from the California Institute of Technology in 1992, completed her postdoctoral work as a Hubble Fellow at UA Steward Observatory, and joined the UCLA faculty in 1994. Her honors and awards include the Amelia Earhart Award, a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, the Annie Jump Cannon Award, a Sloan Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship, the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize from the American Astronomical Society and the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award from the American Physical Society. Ghez has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In October 2000, Discover Magazine named Ghez one of the top 20 scientists in the country younger than 40.

Ghez was awarded the 2007 Marc Aarsonson Memorial Lectureship for her use of speckle interferometry, adaptive optics and infrared imaging in studying the nature of the Milky Way black hole and in studying T Tauri stars and pre-Main-Sequence stars.

The Aaronson Memorial Lecture honors the late Marc Aaronson, a Steward Observatory astronomer who died at age 36 in 1987 in an accident while making astronomical observations on Kitt Peak, Ariz. The memorial lectureship fund is administered by The University of Arizona, with additional funding from Steward Observatory and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.