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EST. 1915

The 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Awarded to Missouri S&T Graduate

In 1985 Dr. Frederick K. Baganoff earned his bachelor of science degree from Missouri S&T’s physics department. Now a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Dr. Baganoff is to receive the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, along with the other 346 researchers making up the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration. The EHT is a worldwide network of telescopes which work in conjunction to create a virtual telescope with a high enough resolution to create an image containing the shadow of a black hole. This new found ability to directly detect black holes is the very breakthrough for which the EHT Collaboration is now being awarded. These 347 scientists together authored six papers which record and report the first direct detection of a black hole and captured image of its shadow. Three million dollars will be split equally between the scientists of the EHT Collaboration, whose papers were published in April of this year.

Dr. Baganoffs area of expertise is in the field of observational high-energy astrophysics. He has been a part of the EHT Collaboration since 2009 when he acted as lead researcher for a team credited with discovery of the flaring of the black hole located at the Milky Way Galaxy’s center. More recently he contributed to two of the six papers published following the success of the EHT. One paper is titled “First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. I. The Shadow of the Supermassive Black Hole”, and summarizes the EHT project, and the other paper is titled “First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. V. Physical Origin of the Asymmetric Ring”, and analyzes data related to the black hole.

Upon learning of Dr. Baganoffs contribution to this scientific breakthrough, Dr. Thomas Vojta, Curators’ Distinguished Professor and chair of physics, spoke on behalf of Missouri S&T stating “We are honored that Dr. Baganoff spent his undergraduate years in Missouri S&T’s physics department and was a recipient of the University of Missouri Curators’ Scholarship. Our astrophysics initiative continues to build on our legacy of space science. With S&T’s current participation in the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) Scientific Collaboration and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX), we now have cutting-edge research groups in gravitational wave physics and in cosmology”.

For 8 years now the Breakthrough Prize has recognized achievements in fundamental mathematics and physics. This year the theme is “Seeing the Invisible” in honor of the picture of the black holes shadow. The Breakthrough Prize gala awards ceremony will be held on Sunday November 3, 2019 at the NASA Ames Research Center located in Mountain View, California. Dr. Baganoff will be recognized in the ceremony, which will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel.


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