Senate Faculty

Alex filippenko formal dec2012a small crop

Alexei V. Filippenko

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

PhD, 1984, Astronomy, California Institute of Technology

Miller Fellow for Basic Research in Science, 1984-86, University of California, Berkeley

-Distinguished Professor of Astronomy

Office:
501 Campbell Hall

Contact:
E:afilippenko@berkeley.edu
P:510-642-5275

Alex Filippenko’s CV: Alex-Filippenko-CV

Alex Filippenko’s publications: Alex-Filippenko-publications

Specialty areas

Active galaxies,Astronomy,Astrophysics,Black hole transients,Black holes,Compact astrophysical objects,Core-Collapse Supernovae,Cosmology,Dark Matter,Galaxies,Galaxies at Cosmological Distances,Gamma-ray bursts,Near-Field Cosmology,Neutron Stars,Optical/infrared instrumentation,Space Astrophysics,Stellar Evolution,Supernova Shockwaves,Supernovae,The expansion of the Universe,Tidal disruption events.

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 has conducted one of the world’s most successful searches for relatively nearby supernovae, discovering more than 1000 of them. He is a frequent user of Lick Observatory, the 10-meter Keck telescopes, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope.

Biography

Alex Filippenko is a Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at UC Berkeley. His accomplishments, documented in more than 1070 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), as well as an elected American Astronomical Society (AAS) Fellow (2021). In 2017, he was selected for the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award. 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) and the AAS Education Prize (2022). He produced five astronomy video courses with “The Great Courses” (see below), coauthored an award-winning astronomy textbook, and appears in more than 120 TV documentaries, including about 50 episodes of “The Universe” series. He has given over 1000 public lectures or other presentations, and he was awarded the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization. An avid tennis player, runner, hiker, skier, whitewater rafter, snorkeler, and scuba diver, he enjoys world travel and he loves to observe total solar eclipses (19, so far).

Alex’s recent or upcoming public talks:

(1) Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 7-8:30 pm: Silicon Valley Lecture Series: “First Results from the James Webb Space Telescope.” See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te2zSAbyAo0  for a video recording.

(2) Friday, September 23, 2023, 5-6 pm: Cal Homecoming: “The Great American Total Solar Eclipse of April 8, 2024.” See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSdTaE-eA2c  for a video recording.

(3) Friday,  November 3, 2023, 7:30-9 pm: Boise State University, First Friday Astronomy Series: “A New Surprise in the Accelerating Expansion of the Universe.” See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjCl37SThWc  for a video recording.

Publications

View Alex Filippenko’s Full Publications List

Books

Understanding the universe cover
Black holes cover
Skywatching cover
Cosmos 5ed cover