Who we are

The Galactic Center Group is led by the Principal Investigator and Professor of Physics and Astronomy Andrea Ghez. It is a collaboration of astronomy and physics researchers from UCLA, California Institute of Technology, W. M. Keck Observatory, University of Hawaii, and Thirty Meter Telescope. The Galactic Center Group research focuses on investigating the innermost regions of the Milky Way and its central supermassive black hole at the highest angular resolution possible, with which we aim at understanding the interplay between the formation and evolution of galaxies and their central supermassive black holes.

What we do

Over the past two decades, dramatic advances in technology have led to order-of-magnitude improvements in imaging resolution and the UCLA Galactic Center Group has been consistently at the forefront of these advances with the Keck telescopes. Dr. Andrea Ghez was the first to deliver images from Keck observatory that were corrected for the blurring effects of the Earth's atmosphere, breaking a fundamental barrier and delivering images sharper than those from Hubble Space Telescope by more than a factor of 10. Then by tracking the motions of star, Dr. Ghez, Dr. Morris and Dr. Becklin, the founders of the Galactic Center Group, proved the existence of a supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The rapidity with which these stars move on small-scale orbits indicate the presence a source of tremendous gravity and provides the best evidence that supermassive black holes, which confront and challenge our knowledge of fundamental physics, do exist in the Universe. We study stellar populations, gas, and dust within the central one parsec and have discovered that what happens near a supermassive black hole is quite different than what theoretical models have predicted. Our discoveries are changing many of our notions on how not only other spiral galaxies but also other types of galaxies form and evolve over time.

Top: Members at UCLA. Middle: Orbits of stars with in the central 1 parsec - these orbits show that the stars orbits an invisible object of tremendeous gravity. Bottom: Founders; Andrea Ghez, Erick Becklin, Mark Morris.