2012 Crafoord Prize in Astronomy Goes to Keck Astronomer

The Crafoord Prize

The Crafoord Prize is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and subject of the award is rotated each year. The Anna-Greta and Holger Crafoord’s Fund was established in 1980, and the first prize was awarded in 1982. Professor Andrea Ghez is the first woman ever to receive the prize; her team and her have been researching for 16 years using high-resolution imaging technologies to observe the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Andrea Ghez and Her Team

Professor Andrea Ghez and the team of astronomers that she led are receiving the 2012 Crafoord Prize in Astronomy which will be awarded in May of 2012. The Crafoord Prize website states that ”this year´s Crafoord Prize Laureates have found the most reliable evidence to date that supermassive black holes really exist. For decades Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, with their research teams, have tracked stars around the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. Separately, they both arrived at the same conclusion: in our home galaxy resides a giant black hole called Sagittarius A*.” The two teams have been in a friendly competition to find the results of this ongoing study, and they have essentially both come to the same results. Ghez has been using Keck Observatory located on the Big Island in Hawaii.

About Keck

Keck is home to the world’s two largest telescopes, and Ghez, according to her UCLA Homepage, “Using a variety of interferometric techniques and adaptive optics, has been able to produce diffraction-limited images of a variety of astronomical objects. With the Keck Telescopes, these images have the highest spatial resolution currently obtainable from the ground or space.” Keck Observatory is perched atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest point, and is home to two of the worlds most powerful telescopes. The summit here is nearly 14,000 feet, and the telescopes housed in the observatory get their sensitivity and clarity from 10-meter primary mirrors.

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