Senate Faculty


Photo of Alex Filippenko

Alex Filippenko

Professor of Astronomy

BA, 1979, Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara

PhD, 1984, Astronomy, California Institute of Technology

Office:

  • 255 Campbell Hall

Contact:

More info:

Specialty Areas

Supernovae, active galaxies, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, and the expansion of the Universe


Research Interests

Alex Filippenko and his collaborators are determining the nature of the progenitor stars and the explosion mechanisms of different types of supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. He is also using supernovae as cosmological distance indicators, and he was a member of both teams that discovered (in 1998) the accelerating expansion of the Universe, probably driven by "dark energy" -- a discovery that was honored with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics to the teams' leaders. He also works on quantifying the physical properties of quasars and active galaxies, and he searches for black holes in both X-ray binary stars and nearby galactic nuclei. His group has developed the 0.76-meter Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT), which is conducting one of the world's most successful searches for relatively nearby supernovae, having discovered about 1000 of them. He is a frequent user of Lick Observatory, the 10-meter Keck telescopes, and the Hubble Space Telescope.


Biography

Alex Filippenko is the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences. His accomplishments, documented in more than 800 research papers, have been recognized by several major prizes, including a share of both the Gruber Cosmology Prize (2007) and the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (2015). One of the world's most highly cited astronomers, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (2009) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2015). He has won the most prestigious teaching awards at UC Berkeley and has also been voted the "Best Professor" on campus a record 9 times. Selected in 2006 as the Carnegie/CASE National Professor of the Year among doctoral institutions, he has also received the Richard H. Emmons Award for undergraduate teaching (2010). He produced five astronomy video courses with "The Great Courses," coauthored an award-winning astronomy textbook, and appears in more than 100 TV documentaries, including about 50 episodes of "The Universe" series. He has given nearly 1000 public lectures and was awarded the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization. An avid tennis player, hiker, skier, whitewater rafter, snorkler, and scuba diver, he enjoys world travel and is addicted to observing total solar eclipses (15 so far, all successful).

Note: If you are interested in possibly joining Alex on his next trip to view a total solar eclipse (August 21, 2017), please see http://alumni.berkeley.edu/travel/cal-discoveries/north-america/total-solar-eclipse-oregon .

Alex's future public talks: (1) Saturday, June 4, 2016, 3:45-4:45 pm, at "The Art & Science of Awe" symposium, UC Berkeley; stunning astronomical images, etc. (2) Sunday, July 17 and Tuesday, July 19, 2016 (the same talk both days, on total solar eclipses), Lair of the Golden Bear, Pinecrest, CA. (3) Friday, September 30, 2016, 5-6 pm, UC Berkeley Homecoming, on total solar eclipses.


Publications

View Alex Filippenko's Full Publications List


Books