Claire E Max

TitleAstronomer/Professor
DivisionPhysical & Biological Sciences
DepartmentPBSci-Astronomy & Astrophysics Dept,
UC Observatories
Phone831-459-2049
Email,
,
FAX831-459-5717
Web Site Web Page
Office205 Center For Adaptive Optics
Campus Mail StopUCO / Lick Observatory
picture of Claire E Max

Research Interests

Prof. Max's research interests are focused in two areas: the design and implementation of new adaptive optics systems, and using these new systems to study black holes in the cores of nearby galaxies.



Adaptive Optics: This new technology removes blurring of astronomical images caused by turbulence in the earth's atmosphere, allowing ground-based telescopes to see almost as clearly as if they were in space. Prof. Max's group was a major contributor to the adaptive optics (AO) system at the 10-meter Keck Telescope in Hawaii in the late 1990s. She is now Project Scientist for the Next Generation AO System being developed for the Keck Observatory.



Black holes in the cores of nearby galaxies: Prof. Max and her group use the superb spatial resolution of adaptive optics to study the immediate environments of active galactic nuclei hosting accreting supermassive black holes. The images below show one of these objects, called NGC 6240, which consists of a pair of spiral galaxies in the midst of a collision with each other. This object is of interest because each of the two galaxies contains its own black hole, which will eventually spiral in to be very close to each other and perhaps eventually merge together. Currently Max's group is using adaptive optics to measure the masses of the two black holes in NGC 6240 and in other nearby colliding-galaxy pairs, and to image more distant galaxies that are candidates for containing two active supermassive black holes.

Biography, Education and Training

AB Harvard University, Astronomy 1968

PhD Princeton University, Astrophysical Sciences 1972

Postdoc, UC Berkeley, Physics 1972-74

Physicist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 1974-2000

Astronomer/Professor, UC Santa Cruz 2001-present

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2002

Director, Center for Adaptive Optics, UC Santa Cruz 2004-present

Ernest O. Lawrence Award for Physics, Department of Energy, 2004

National Academy of Sciences 2008

James Madison Medal, Princeton University 2009