News Release| CSULA; Leon Pape Memorial Lecture

 Distinguished astronomer sheds light on the ‘black hole at the center of our galaxy’

Annual Leon Pape Memorial Lecture at Cal State L.A. Nov. 13

Los Angeles, CA –

As part of Cal State L.A.’s 26th Annual Leon Pape Memorial Lecture, distinguished astronomer Andrea M. Ghez will present “Unveiling a Black Hole at the Center of our GalaxyFriday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. in Physical Sciences 158, on the Cal State L.A. campus.

A professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles, Ghez will describe how adaptive optics improvements have enabled astronomers to establish the existence of and determine the mass of the super-massive black hole in our galaxy’s center. Her work in adaptive optics and speckle imaging has made significant advancements in the resolving power of telescopes.

Ghez currently utilizes and develops high spatial resolution imaging techniques to study star formation and investigate the proposed massive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Professor Ghez and her colleagues mapped—with extraordinarily high precision—the movement of a group of stars in the Sagittarius constellation near the center of our galaxy. Her group and another based in Germany identified a set of stars orbiting a common point at extraordinary velocities (up to 4% of the speed of light), implying the existence of a massive black hole containing about 3.7 million solar masses at the galactic center. Since 1995, Ghez has been using the Keck Observatory, which sits atop Hawaii’s dormant Mauna Kea volcano, to study the rotational center of the Milky Way and the movement of 200 stars close to this galactic center.

Ghez has received numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship Award in 2008, Sackler Prize in 2004, American Physical Society’s Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award in 1999, and the American Astronomical Society’s Newton Lacy Pierce Prize in 1998. In 2004, she was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She received her B.S. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987 and her Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology in 1992.

The lecture series honors the late Leon Pape, a member of the Cal State L.A. Physics Department faculty from 1961 to 1971, by bringing Nobel Prize winners and other science experts to the campus. Past speakers have included Nobel Laureates David Gross, Rosalyn S. Yalow, William A. Fowler, Linus Pauling, Hans A. Bethe, Leon M. Lederman, Francis H.C. Crick, David Baltimore and F. Sherwood Rowland.

For more information, call the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Cal State L.A., (323) 343-2100 or go to /dept/physics/papelecture.htm.  

Who & What:  Distinguished astronomer Andrea M. Ghez will present “Unveiling a Black Hole at the Center of our Galaxy” at Cal State L.A.’s 26th Annual Leon Pape Memorial Lecture.

When: Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 – 2 p.m.

Where: Physical Sciences, room 158, on the Cal State L.A. campus. (For campus map and directions, go to: Permit parking is available at Lots 5 and 7 or Parking Structure C.

Details: Free to the public. Contact the CSULA Physics and Astronomy Department at (323) 343-2100.

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