ann20015 — Announcement

Congratulations to the Physics Nobel Prize Recipients

The international Gemini Observatory played an important role

9 October 2020

NSF’s NOIRLab and AURA would like to extend their congratulations to the 2020 Physics Nobel Prize Laureates Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel, and Andrea Ghez. In the wake of Penrose's theoretical work that showed black holes must exist, Genzel and Ghez confirmed that there is a supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab, is proud to have played a part in Ghez's observations with the Gemini North adaptive optics system, along with the W.M. Keck and Subaru observatories all on Hawai‘i’s Maunakea.

Ghez’s research team analyzed precise positional and spectroscopic data of a star known as S0-2 over two decades as it followed its elongated 16-year orbit around Sagittarius A* — the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole. The star reached its closest approach to Sag A* in May 2018, when it was at a distance of only 120 AU and moving at 2.7% of the speed of light. During the critical months, team used three spectroscopic instruments for their award-winning work: the Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NIFS) on Gemini North, the OH-Suppressing InfraRed Imaging Spectrograph (OSIRIS) on the Keck II Telescope, and the InfraRed Camera and Spectrograph (IRCS) at Subaru.

Andrea Ghez is only the fourth woman to win the physics Nobel Prize. Gemini director Jennifer Lotz congratulates Andrea Ghez, Penrose, and Genzel: “The precise measurements of the stars around Sagittarius A* are a testament to the power of adaptive optics and time-domain astronomy on Maunakea. These measurements over decades have benefited from Gemini’s continuous instrument development and the exceptional conditions on Maunakea.”



Amanda Kocz
Press and Internal Communications Officer
Cel: +1 626 524 5884

About the Announcement