Galactic Center Research

Overview

The UCLA Galactic Center Group, led by principal investigator and professor of astronomy Andrea Ghez, is dedicated to researching the innermost regions of the Milky Way at the highest angular resolution possible in order to understand the formation and evolution of galaxies and their central supermassive black holes.
 
Our focus is on testing Einstein's theory of General Relativity in an unexplored regime, understanding the role of black holes in the formation and evolution of galaxies, driving the design and development of next generation Adaptive Optics systems, and educating next generation of researchers and bringing the excitement of research to the public.
 
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Galactic Center Group


Faculty research
 

  • Eric Becklin focuses on the observational studies of the regions around the Massive Black Hole in the center of the Milky Way and other regions of star formation in the Galaxy. He is the Chief Scientific Advisor on SOFIA.
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  • Mike Fitzgerald is interested in extrasolar planets and their formation using indirect and direct techniques such as adaptive optics, coronagraphy, and interferometry. He also works to develop infrared instrumentation.
     
  • Andrea Ghez is carrying out a diffraction-limited study of the Galaxy's central stellar cluster. This program has provided strong evidence for a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way and is continuing to study the environs of this region.
     
  • Brad Hansen studies the evolution of white dwarf stars and the formation and evolution of planetary systems.
     
  • James Larkin develops instrumentation for adaptive optics systems in order to study the evolution of galaxies and to directly search for extrasolar planets.

    Mark Morris studies the fate of massive stars and star clusters at the Galactic center, and is trying to determine the character and the origin of the magnetic field in the central few hundred parsecs of the Galaxy. He also studies the hot, diffuse gas at the Galactic center with the Chandra and XMM X-ray observatories.
     
    Smadar Naoz is a theoretical astrophysicist studying wide range of different  dynamical problems  from exoplanets, stars and black holes. She also studies the formation of structure in the early Universe.
     
     

    Research scholar