Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Black Holes Bring Filipina An Award

"Astronomy and Astrophysics are rich and exciting fields that offer plenty of opportunities for young scientists to contribute. Master the basics, keep up with the latest discoveries, don't stop asking questions and finding the answers,"
-Reinabelle Reyes

Reinabelle Reyes, a 24-year-old astrophysicist, was given the "Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award" at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in January. She was given the award in line with her major role in the discovery of the largest number of "super massive" black holes in the center of galaxies, hidden by obscured quasars.

Reyes is a DOST scholar who graduated valedictorian from the Philippine Science High School in 2001, and 4 years later graduated in Ateneo de Manila, as summa cum laude with a Physics degree. She then took her masterals in Particle physics at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. Reyes is now a candidate for Ph.D in astrophysics, at the Princeton University in New Jersey.

Her 1st task at Princeton was to "figure out" how rare these black holes were. This is quite a difficult task since blackholes are considered invisible. She, in fact, described the project as looking for a needle in a haystack.

She was assigned to a group headed by Nadia Zakamska, a long-term postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study, and under the supervision of "quasar hunter" professor Michael Strauss. The group found 900 black holes.