Mark J. Reid is a Senior Astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics of the Harvard and Smithsonian. He is a world leader in the development of the technique of Very Long Baseline Interferometry and is widely recognized as the father of ultra-high precision radio astrometry. Reid was born in Berkeley; from 2 to 7 years old lived in Vienna, Austria; and then grew up in Los Angeles. He did his undergraduate work at the University of California, San Diego, and received his Ph.D. in Planetary Science and Astronomy from the California Institute of Technology. Reid has was worked on a wide variety of astrophysical topics from the formation and evolution of stars, to black holes, to the structure of the Milky Way. He has received numerous awards, including a Senior Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Society, the Beatrice Tinsley Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Jansky Prize Lectureship of Associated Universities, Inc., and the Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Research Interests

Mark Reid's research interests include star formation and evolution, black holes, the structure of the Milky Way, and cosmology. He has developed techniques to do ultra-high precision astrometry at radio wavelengths with Very Long Baseline Interferometry, achieving accuracies of better than 10 micro-arcseconds. By measuring the annual parallax (distance) of the binary star system, Cygnus X-1, he was able to firmly establish that the unseen star was very massive and thus a black hole. Applying similar techniques to measure distances to star forming regions across the Milky Way, he is leading the effort to map its spiral structure in 3-dimensions. His astrometric observations of the compact radio source at the center of the Milky Way, Sgr A*, have shown that it is stationary, providing overwhelming evidence that it is a supermassive black hole. In addition, Reid has played a pivotal role in the study of water-vapor masers found in the accretion disks surrounding black holes at the centers of distant galaxies. By monitoring and mapping these source, direct measurements of the expansion of the Universe (Hubble Constant) have been obtained.

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Primary Section

Section 12: Astronomy

Secondary Section

Section 13: Physics