Grantee partner Andrea Ghez, UCLA’s Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Professor of Astrophysics, was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in physics today. Ghez shares the prize with Reinhard Genzel of University of California, Berkeley, and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. The Nobel committee praised them for “the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.” You can read UCLA’s press release here.
Over the past 23 years, Dr. Andrea Ghez and her team of astronomers at UCLA’s Galactic Center Group (GCG) have patiently and comprehensively observed and analyzed data to understand the interplay between galaxies and supermassive black holes. This past summer, one of the stars tracked by the GCG research team reached its closest approach to the supermassive black hole sitting at the center of our Milky Way. This provided an extraordinary opportunity to, for the first time, test Einstein’s general theory of relativity around a supermassive black hole. See the full study at Science Magazine, or play with this interactive data tool to further explore and understand the data.