Andrea M. Ghez
Ghez in April 2019
Andrea Mia Ghez

(1965-06-16) June 16, 1965 (age 58)
Known forDiscovery of a supermassive black hole at the Galactic Center
Adaptive optics
AwardsMacArthur Fellowship (2008)
Crafoord Prize (2012)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2020)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Los Angeles
ThesisThe Multiplicity of T Tauri Stars in the Star Forming Regions Taurus-Auriga and Ophiuchus-Scorpius: A 2.2μm Speckle Imaging Survey (1993)
Doctoral advisorGerry Neugebauer

Andrea Mia Ghez (born June 16, 1965) is an American astrophysicist, Nobel laureate, and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Lauren B. Leichtman & Arthur E. Levine chair in Astrophysics, at the University of California, Los Angeles.[1] Her research focuses on the center of the Milky Way galaxy.[2]

In 2020, she became the fourth woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, sharing one half of the prize with Reinhard Genzel (the other half being awarded to Roger Penrose).[1][3] The Nobel Prize was awarded to Ghez and Genzel for their discovery of a supermassive compact object, now generally recognized to be a black hole, in the Milky Way's Galactic Center.[4][5]

Early life

Ghez was born in New York City.[1] She is the daughter of Susanne (née Gayton) and Gilbert Ghez.[6][7] Her father, of Jewish heritage, was born in Rome, Italy, to a family originally from Tunisia and Frankfurt, Germany.[8][9] Her mother was from an Irish Catholic family from North Attleborough, Massachusetts.[10]

Her family moved from New York to Chicago when she was a child, and Ghez attended the University of Chicago Lab School.[6][11] The Apollo program Moon landings inspired Ghez to aspire to be the first female astronaut, and her mother encouraged that goal by purchasing a telescope.[12][13] Her most influential female role model was her high school chemistry teacher.[14]

She began college by majoring in mathematics, then changed to physics.[15] She received a BS in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987.[13][16] While there, she was a member of the fraternity of St. Anthony Hall.[17][18] She received a PhD under the direction of Gerry Neugebauer at the California Institute of Technology in 1992.[19]


Ghez's research employs high spatial resolution imaging techniques, such as the adaptive optics system at the Keck telescopes,[20] to study star-forming regions and the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way known as Sagittarius A*.[21] She uses the kinematics of stars near the center of the Milky Way as a probe to investigate this region.[22] The high resolution of the Keck telescopes[23] gave a significant improvement over the first major study of galactic center kinematics by Reinhard Genzel's group.[24]

In 2004, Ghez was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 2012, she was elected to the American Philosophical Society.[25][26] In 2019, she was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS).[27]

Ghez has appeared in many television documentaries produced by networks such as the BBC, Discovery Channel, and The History Channel. In 2006 she was in an episode of the PBS series Nova.[28] She was identified as a Science Hero by The My Hero Project.[12] In 2000, Discover magazine listed Ghez as one of 20 promising young American scientists in their respective fields.[2]

Black hole at the Galactic Center (Sgr A*)

Main article: Sagittarius A*

By imaging the Galactic Center at infrared wavelengths, Ghez and her colleagues have been able to peer through heavy dust that blocks visible light, to reveal images of the center of the Milky Way. Thanks to the 10-meter aperture of the W.M. Keck Telescope and the use of adaptive optics to correct for the turbulence of the atmosphere, these images of the Galactic Center are at very high spatial resolution and have made it possible to follow the orbits of stars around the black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). The partial orbits of many stars orbiting the black hole at the Galactic Center have been observed. One of the stars, S2, has made a complete elliptical orbit since detailed observations began in 1995. Several decades more will be required to completely document the orbits of some of these stars. These measurements may provide a test of the theory of general relativity. In October 2012, a second star, S0-102, was identified by her team at UCLA, orbiting the Galactic Center.[29] Using Kepler's third law, Ghez's team used the orbital motion to show that the mass of Sgr A* is 4.1±0.6 million solar masses.[30] Because the Galactic Center where Sgr A* is located, is one hundred times closer than M31 where the next nearest supermassive black hole (M31*) is,[31] it is one of the best demonstrated cases for a supermassive black hole.[32][33]

In 2020, Ghez shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Roger Penrose and Reinhard Genzel, for their discoveries relating to black holes.[4] Ghez and Genzel were awarded one half of the prize for their discovery that a supermassive black hole most likely governs the orbits of stars at the center of the Milky Way.[34] Ghez was the fourth woman to win the physics Nobel since its inception, being preceded by Marie Curie (1903), Maria Goeppert Mayer (1963), and Donna Strickland (2018).[3]


Selected publications



Personal life

Ghez has two sons.[47] Ghez is an active swimmer in the UCLA Masters Swim Club.[48][49]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Andrea Ghez". Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Speed Weed, William (January 19, 2000). "20 Young Scientists to Watch". Discover Magazine. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Facts on the Nobel Prize in Physics". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Press release: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Overbye, Dennis; Taylor, Derrick Bryson (October 6, 2020). "Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to 3 Scientists for Work on Black Holes – The prize was awarded half to Roger Penrose for showing how black holes could form and half to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for discovering a supermassive object at the Milky Way's center". The New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Yasuda, Anita (2015). Astronomy: Cool Women in Space. Nomad Press. ISBN 978-1619303270 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Who's who in the West. Marquis-Who's Who. 2004. ISBN 978-0837909356 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "Gilbert Ghez (1938–2015) – Obituary".
  9. ^ Chi spregia il giorno delle piccole cose?
  10. ^ "Oral history interview with Susanne Ghez". January 25, 2011.
  11. ^ "Alumni Award Winners Announced". University of Chicago. May 16, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Jennifer Lauren Lee. "Science Hero:Andrea Mia Ghez". The My Hero Project. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  13. ^ a b "Andrea Ghez, Astronomy / UCLA Spotlight". UCLA. February 11, 2008. Archived from the original on February 11, 2008. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  14. ^ Susan Lewis (October 31, 2006). "Galactic Explorer Andrea Ghez". NOVA.
  15. ^ Linda Copman. "Zeroing in on Black Holes". W. M. Keck Observatory. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  16. ^ "Changing Faces of Astronomy". Science. Archived from the original on March 16, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  17. ^ "Tau Sister Shares Nobel Prize for Physics". St. Anthony Hall. October 9, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  18. ^ a b Dangremond, Sam (2022). "Reaching for the Stars" (PDF). The Review. St. Anthony Hall (Spring): 19.
  19. ^ Ghez, Andrea (1993). The Multiplicity of T Tauri Stars in the Star Forming Regions Taurus-Auriga and Ophiuchus-Scorpius: A 2.2μm Speckle Imaging Survey (PhD thesis). California Institute of Technology. OCLC 437065967. ProQuest 304056481.
  20. ^ "Supermassive Black Holes". BBC. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  21. ^ "Milky Way Monster Stars in Cosmic Reality Show". Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  22. ^ "CELT Science Working Group Meeting". Archived from the original on August 20, 2007. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  23. ^, Liz Jensen. "UCLA Galactic Center Group".
  24. ^ Eckart, A.; Genzel, R. (1996). "Observations of stellar proper motions near the Galactic Centre". Nature. 383 (6599): 415–417. Bibcode:1996Natur.383..415E. doi:10.1038/383415a0. S2CID 4285760.
  25. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  26. ^ "Andrea Ghez Elected to National Academy of Sciences". NASA. Archived from the original on November 1, 2004. Retrieved March 20, 2004.
  27. ^ a b "APS Fellow Archive". Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  28. ^ "Andrea M. Ghez cv" (PDF). UCLA. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  29. ^ Wolpert, Stuart. "UCLA astronomers discover star racing around black hole at center of our galaxy". UCLA Newsroom. Archived from the original on March 15, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  30. ^ Ghez, A. M.; Salim, S.; Weinberg, N. N.; Lu, J. R.; Do, T.; Dunn, J. K.; Matthews, K.; Morris, M.; Yelda, S.; Becklin, E. E.; Kremenek, T.; Milosavljevic, M.; Naiman, J. (December 20, 2008). "Measuring Distance and Properties of the Milky Way's Central Supermassive Black Hole with Stellar Orbits". The Astrophysical Journal. 689 (2): 1044–1062. arXiv:0808.2870. Bibcode:2008ApJ...689.1044G. doi:10.1086/592738. S2CID 18335611.
  31. ^ Eckart, Andreas; Schödel, Rainer; et al. (September 2006). "The Galactic Centre: The Flare Activity of SgrA* and High-Resolution Explorations of Dusty Stars" (PDF). The Messenger. 125. European Southern Observatory: 2–5.
  32. ^ "The Supermassive Black Hole at the Galactic Center". Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  33. ^ Boen, Brooke (May 20, 2015). "Supermassive Black Hole Sagittarius A*". NASA. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  34. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020". Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  35. ^ a b "Annie J. Cannon Award in Astronomy". American Astronomical Society. Archived from the original on February 28, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  36. ^ "Packard Fellows – Sorted by Award Year: 1996". University of Virginia. Archived from the original on November 3, 2007. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  37. ^ "UCLA Galactic Center Group / SELECTED HONORS & AWARDS". 1995–2017. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  38. ^ "Maria Goeppert Mayer Award".
  39. ^ "Honors and Awards received by IGPP/UCLA Faculty and Research Staff". UCLA. Archived from the original on February 4, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  40. ^ "Astronomer Andrea Ghez awarded Gold Shield prize". University of California, Santa Cruz. Archived from the original on July 9, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  41. ^ "UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez named a 2008 MacArthur Fellow". UCLA. Archived from the original on September 24, 2008. Retrieved September 23, 2008.
  42. ^ "The Crafoord Prize in Mathematics 2012 and The Crafoord Prize in Astronomy 2012". Crafoord Prize. Archived from the original on December 27, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  43. ^ "Newsroom". Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  44. ^ "Andrea Ghez to receive Royal Society's Bakerian Medal".
  45. ^ "Honorary degree recipients for 2019 announced". The University of Oxford. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  46. ^ "AAS Fellows". AAS. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  47. ^ Lewis, Wayne (March 24, 2021). "A Search for Knowledge That Led Andrea Ghez to a Nobel Prize". UCLA. Archived from the original on March 24, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  48. ^ "Poster Project, Biographies".
  49. ^ "UCLA Masters Swimmer Andrea Ghez Wins Nobel Prize in Physics". SwimSwam. October 6, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020.