Andrea M. Ghez

University of California, Los Angeles

Election Year: 2004
Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

Working in the field of Astronomy, I have focused on the development and application of high spatial resolution infrared imaging techniques to the questions of the origin and early life of stars and planets, and the distribution and nature of matter at the center of our galaxy. From my group's measurements of stars orbiting the center of our Galaxy, we have demonstrated the existence of a supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, with a mass of four million times that of our Sun. Our current experiments in this area are aimed at understanding how the black hole gains mass from its surroundings and what we can learn by analogy about the formation and evolution of galaxies and their central black holes. In our work on young stars, we have discovered that most, if not all, star shortly after birth have companion stars and that in most cases the binary star separations that are smaller than the size of our solar system. Our work suggests that planetary systems such as our own are not the norm and raises many questions. For example, how do stars end up as multiples when they are young? What influence do the companion stars have on the formation of planets?

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