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<b>Astronomy of the 21st Century: Distinguished Lecture Series</b><br><i>Unveiling the Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy</i>

Friday, February 20, 2009
12:00 AM
1800 Chemistry

Speaker: Andrea Ghez (UCLA)

More than a quarter century ago, it was suggested that galaxies such as our own Milky Way may harbor massive, though possibly dormant, central black holes. Definitive proof, for or against, the existence of a massive central black hole lies in the assessment of the distribution of matter in the center of the Galaxy. The motion of the stars in the vicinity of a black hole offers a way to determine this distribution. Based on 14 years of high resolution imaging, Dr. Ghez's team has moved the case for a supermassive black hole at the Galactic Center from a possibility to a certainty. Additionally, spectroscopy has revealed that the stars orbiting in such close proximity are apparently massive and young; the origin of these stars is difficult to explain, given the strong tidal forces, and may provide key insight into the growth of the central black hole.