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Some Important Contributions:
"Variations in spectral-energy distributions and absorption-line strengths among
elliptical galaxies," ApJ, 179, 731-754, 1973.
"Velocity dispersions and mass-to-light ratios for elliptical
galaxies," AJ, 204, 668-683, 1976, with R.E. Jackson.
- Established that
the colors and absorption-line strengths in the spectra of elliptical galaxies
vary systematically with galaxy brightness. This discovery laid the foundation
for all further work on the stellar populations of elliptical
"Masses and mass-to-light ratios of galaxies,"
Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys., 17, 135-187, 1979, with J.S.
that the internal orbital velocities in elliptical galaxies are bigger in larger
galaxies according to the law v ~ L^(1/4), where L is galaxy luminosity. This
was the first of the "scaling laws" discovered for galaxies. It and later laws
found by others are the basic dynamical properties that theories of galaxy
formation must explain.
"Spectroscopy and photometry of elliptical galaxies. V. Galaxy
streaming towards the new supergalactic centre," ApJ, 326, 19-49, 1988,
with D. Lynden-Bell, D. Burstein, R.L. Davies, A. Dressler, R. Terlevich,
and G. Wegner.
- Reviewed available data on galaxy masses and concluded that
galaxies must be surrounded by invisible halos of dark matter. Regarded by many
as the definitive statement that convinced astronomers of the existence of dark
matter in the universe.
"The centers of
early-type galaxies with HST. IV. Central parameter relations," AJ,
114, 1771, 1997, with S. Tremaine, E.A. Ajhar, Y.I. Byun et
- Used distances to elliptical galaxies estimated from
their scaling laws to measure irregularities in the local expansion of the
universe. A huge patch of the universe was discovered around the Milky Way
galaxy moving "sideways" and falling onto a large supercluster of galaxies in
the Southern hemisphere dubbed the "Great Attractor". This large-scale flow was
very surprising at the time but is now understood to be compatible with the
fluctuations in the matter density caused by inflation, of the sort invoked in
the previous paper to explain the origin of galaxies.
- Summarized the results of many images of the centers of elliptical
galaxies taken with Space Telescope and argued based on those images that most
large elliptical galaxies must contain a central supermassive black hole.
1978 Bart J. Bok Prize, Harvard University
1985 Elected to National Academy of Sciences
1986 Heineman Prize, American Astronomical Society
1986 Honorary D. Sc., Swarthmore College
1989 Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1993 NASA Group Achievement Award, Wide-Field/Planetary Camera Team
1996 University Professor, University of California
1997 Honorary D.Sc., Williams College
1972 - 1977 Assistant Professor/Assistant Astronomer, Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz
1977 - 1979 Associate Professor/Associate Astronomer, Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz
1979 - present Professor/Astronomer, Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz
1996 - present University Professor, University of California
1966 B.A. in Physics (High Honors), Swarthmore College
1972 Ph.D. in Astronomy, Harvard University
Sources and References consulted:
Sandra Faber and [ncs1995md],
"Notable Women in the Physical Sciences: A Biographical Dictionary", B.F. Shearer and B.S. Shearer, eds., Greenwood Press (1997)
Autobiographical sketch hyperlinked below.
Married Andrew Leigh Faber, June 9, 1967. They have two daughters Robin and Holly.
She studied under Sarah Lee Lippincott at Swarthmore (a lecturer without a PhD)
In 1990, she helped establish Keck Observatory on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
Member, wide-field camera design team for the Hubble Space telescope.
Professor Joel Primack
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