Sandra Moore Faber

Sandra Moore Faber


Date of Birth
December 28, 1944

“Sandy” Faber was born in Boston but completed high school in Pittsburgh. She earned her bachelor's degree in physics at Swarthmore College in 1966 and her Ph.D. in astronomy at Harvard University in 1972. While a graduate student she lived in Washington, DC and worked with Vera Rubin and Kent Ford. Since 1972 she has been at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the Lick Observatory (now part of University of California Observatories). In 1996 she was awarded the University’s highest honor, University Professor. Her research has focussed on understanding the formation, evolution, properties, and motions of galaxies. She has made spectroscopic observations of elliptical galaxies and discovered (with her student, Robert Jackson) a link between the velocity dispersions in elliptical galaxies and their luminosities. She has studied the structure and evolution of the stellar populations of galaxies and demonstrated the importance of dark matter halos in determining their evolution. In the 1980s she teamed up with theorist Donald Lynden-Bell and five other observers (two of them her former students, Alan Dressler and David Burstein) to measure properties of 300 galaxies. The team, dubbed the “Seven Samurai,” found irregularities in the “Hubble flow” of galaxies in the expansion of the Universe, which they ascribed to a very great mass, now called the “Great Attractor,” pulling all the nearby galaxies toward its position. In 1984, she, George Blumenthal, Joel Primack, and Martin Rees published the first comprehensive study of the properties of galaxies and clusters of galaxies that would result from a universe dominated by cold dark matter. Faber has investigated massive black holes in the centers of galaxies and participated in galaxy redshift surveys out to great distances. She participated in the construction of the Wide Field/Planetary Camera and the diagnosis and correction of the initial spherical aberration on the Hubble Space Telescope, and she led the development of the DEIMOS multiobject spectrograph for the Keck II Telescope. She served as a co-principal investigator of the team conducting the CANDELS Survey with the Hubble Space Telescope. She has served as interim director of the University of California Observatories (UCO).

Personal web page

At University of California, Santa Cruz.

Other awards

American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 2011.
American Institute of Physics and American Astronomical Society, Dannie Heinemann Prize for Astrophysics, 1985 (account in Physics Today).
Astronomische Gesellschaft, Karl Schwarzschild Medal, 2012.
Franklin Institute, Bower Award, 2009.
Peter Gruber Foundation, Cosmology Prize, 2017 (AAS press release)
National Science Foundation, National Medal of Science, 2012 (UCSC Press Release).

Biographical materials

Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics Project, UCLA, Description and Autobiographical Sketch, 1995.
Faber, Sandra, interview with Alan Lightman, in Lightman, Alan & Roberta Brawer, Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists (Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, UK, 1990), pp. 324–358.
KTEH, Emmy-award winning profile (video), 2010.
Stephens, Tim, UCSC press release on award of Harvard Centennial Medal, 2006.

Academic genealogy



AIP Center for History of Physics (several photos)

Named after her

Faber-Jackson relation (with Robert E. Jackson).
Minor Planet #283277 Faber


Papers, etc.

Faber’s papers from 1968–2018 are at the University of California, Santa Cruz Archives. There are 1988 and 2020 oral history interviews at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives.

Other References: Historical

Dressler, Alan, Voyage to the Great Attractor (Knopf, New York, 1994.

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Other References: Scientific

van de Kamp, Peter & Sandra Moore, “Parallax and Mass Ratio of the Visual Binary Hu 1176 from Photographs Taken with the 24-in. Sproul Refractor,” Astronomical Journal 71, 524-26 (1966).

Moore, Sandra, “On Color Effects in Astrometry,” PASP 79, 611-14 (1967).

Rubin, Vera C., Sandra Moore, and F.C. Bertiau, “Faint blue objects in the Virgo cluster region,” Astronomical Journal 72, 59-64 (1967).

Chromey, F.R., S.M. Faber, A. Wood, & I.J. Danziger, “The BA II Star ζ Cygnii,” Ap.J. 158, 599-606 (1969).

Faber, S.M., “Quadratic Programming Applied to the Problem of Galaxy Population Synthesis,” Astronomy & Astrophysics 20, 361-74 (1972).

Faber, S.M., “Variations in Spectral-Energy Distributions and Absorption-Line Strengths among Elliptical Galaxies,” Ap.J. 179, 731-54 (1973).

Faber, S.M. & J.S. Gallagher, “H I in Early-type Galaxies. II. Mass Loss and Galactic Winds” Ap.J. 204, 365-78 (1976).

Faber, S.M. & R.E. Jackson, “Velocity Dispersions and Mass-to-light Ratios for Elliptical Galaxies,” Ap.J. 204, 668-83 (1976).

Faber, S.M. & J.S. Gallagher, “Masses and Mass-to-light Ratios of Galaxies,” Ann. Revs. Astron. & Astrophys. 17, 135-87 (1979).

Terlevich, Roberto, Roger L. Davies, S.M. Faber, & David Burstein, “The Metallicities, Velocity Dispersions and True Shapes of Elliptical Galaxies,” MNRAS 196, 381-95 (1981).

Faber, S.M., “Galaxy Formation via Hierarchical Clustering and Dissipation: The Structure of Disk Systems,” in Astrophysical Cosmology; Proceedings of the Study Week on Cosmology and Fundamental Physics, Vatican City State, September 28-October 2, 1981 (Pontificia Academia Scientiarum, Vatican City State, 1982), pp. 191-214. [abstract]

Lin, D.N.C., & S.M. Faber, “Some Implications of Nonluminous Matter in Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxies,” Ap.J. 266, L21-L25 (1983).

Faber, S.M., “The Stellar Content of Elliptical Nuclei,” in Highlights of Astronomy. Volume 6. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, 18th General Assembly, Patras, Greece, August 17-26, 1982 (Reidel, Dordrecht, 1983), pp. 165-71 .

Blumenthal, George R., S.M. Faber, Joel R. Primack, & Martin J. Rees, “Formation of Galaxies and Large-scale Structure with Cold Dark Matter,” Nature 311, 517-25 (1984).

Burstein, David, S.M. Faber, C.M. Gaskell, & N. Krumm, “Old Stellar Populations. I. A Spectroscopic Comparison of Galactic Globular Clusters, M31 Globular Clusters, and Elliptical Galaxies,” Ap.J. 287, 586-609 (1984).

Faber, S.M., E.D. Friel, David Burstein, & C.M. Gaskell, “Old Stellar Populations. II. An analysis of K-giant spectra,” Ap.J. Supp. 57, 711-41 (1985).

Blumenthal, George R., S.M. Faber, Ricardo Flores, & Joel R. Primack, “Contraction of Dark Matter Galactic Halos Due to Baryonic Infall,” Ap.J. 301, 27-34 (1986).

Dressler, Alan, S.M. Faber, David Burstein, Roger L. Davies, Lynden-Bell, D., R.J. Terlevich, & Gary Wegner, “Spectroscopy and Photometry of Elliptical Galaxies: A Large-scale Streaming Motion in the Local Universe,” Ap.J. 313, L37-L42 (1987).

Dressler, Alan, Donald Lynden-Bell, David Burstein, Roger L. Davies, S.M. Faber, Roberto Terlevich, & Gary Wegner, “Spectroscopy and Photometry of Elliptical Galaxies. I. A New Distance Estimator,” Ap.J. 313, 42-58 (1987).

Davies, Roger L., David Burstein, Alan Dressler, S.M. Faber, Donald Lynden-Bell, Roberto Terlevich, & Gary Wegner, “Spectroscopy and Photometry of Elliptical Galaxies. II. The Spectroscopic Parameters,” Ap.J. Supp. 64, 581-600 (1987).

Burstein, David, Roger L. Davies, Alan Dressler, S.M. Faber, Remington P.S. Stone, Donald Lynden-Bell, Roberto Terlevich, & Gary Wegner, “Spectroscopy and Photometry of Elliptical Galaxies. III. UBV Aperture Photometry, CCD Photometry, and Magnitude-related Parameters,” Ap.J. Supp. 64, 601-42 (1987).

Faber, Sandra M., ed., Nearly Normal Galaxies: From the Planck Time to the Present; Proceedings of the Eighth Santa Cruz Summer Workshop in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Santa Cruz, CA, July 21-Aug. 1, 1986 (Springer-Verlag, NY, 1987).

Faber, Sandra M., Alan Dressler, Roger L. Davies, David Burstein, & Donald Lynden-Bell, “Global Scaling Relations for Elliptical Galaxies and Implications for Formation,” in Nearly Normal Galaxies: From the Planck Time to the Present; Proceedings of the Eighth Santa Cruz Summer Workshop in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Santa Cruz, CA, July 21-Aug. 1, 1986 (Springer-Verlag, NY, 1987), pp. 175-83.

Lynden-Bell, D., S.M. Faber, David Burstein, Roger L. Davies, Alan Dressler, R.J. Terlevich, & Gary Wegner, “Spectroscopy and Photometry of Elliptical Galaxies. V. Galaxy Streaming toward the New Supergalactic Center,” Ap.J. 326, 19-49 (1988).

Burstein, David, F. Bertola, L.M. Buson, S.M. Faber, & Tod R. Lauer, “The Far-ultraviolet Spectra of Early-type Galaxies,” Ap.J. 328, 440-62 (1988).

Faber, S.M., Gary Wegner, David Burstein, Roger L. Davies, Alan Dressler, D. Lynden-Bell, & R.J. Terlevich, “Spectroscopy and Photometry of Elliptical Galaxies. VI. Sample Selection and Data Summary,” Ap.J. Supp. 69, 763-808 (1988).

Bertschinger, Edmund, Avishai Dekel, Sandra M. Faber, Alan Dressler, & David Burstein, “Potential, Velocity, and Density Fields from Redshift-distance Samples: Application: Cosmography within 6000 Kilometers per Second,” Ap.J. 364, 370-95 (1990).

Holtzman, J.A., et al., “Planetary Camera Observations of NGC 1275: Discovery of a Central Population of Compact Massive Blue Star Clusters,” Astronomical Journal 103, 691-702 (1992).

Worthey, Guy; S.M. Faber, & J. Jesús González, “Mg and Fe Absorption Features in Elliptical Galaxies,” Ap.J. 398, 69-73 (1992).

Bender, Ralf, David Burstein, & S.M. Faber, “Dynamically Hot Galaxies. I. Structural Properties,” Ap.J. 399, 462-77 (1992).

Bender, Ralf, David Burstein, & S.M. Faber, “Dynamically Hot Galaxies. II. Global Stellar Populations,” Ap.J. 411,153-69 (1993).

Tremaine, Scott, et al., “A Family of Models for Spherical Stellar Systems,” Astronomical Journal 107, 634-44 (1995).

Worthey, Guy, S.M. Faber, J. Jesús González, & D. Burstein, “Old Stellar Populations. 5: Absorption Feature Indices for the Complete LICK/IDS Sample of Stars,” Ap.J. Supp. 94, 687-722 (1994).

Lauer, T.R., et al., “The Centers of Early-Type Galaxies with HST. I. An Observational Survey,” Astronomical Journal 110, 2622-54 (1995).

Hester, J.J., et al., “Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 Imaging of M16: Photoevaporation and Emerging Young Stellar Objects,” Astronomical Journal 111, 2349-60 (1996).

Gebhardt, Karl, et al., “The Centers of Early-Type Galaxies With HST. III. Non-Parametric Recovery of Stellar Luminosity Distribution,” Astronomical Journal 112, 105-13 (1996).

Faber, S.M., et al., “The Centers of Early-Type Galaxies with HST. IV. Central Parameter Relations,” Astronomical Journal 114, 1771-96 (1997).

Lowenthal, James D., et al., “Keck Spectroscopy of Redshift z ~ 3 Galaxies in the Hubble Deep Field,” Ap.J. 481, 673-88 (1997).

Willick, Jeffrey A., Stephane Courteau, S.M. Faber, David Burstein, Avishai Dekel, & Michael A. Strauss, “Homogeneous Velocity-Distance Data for Peculiar Velocity Analysis. III. The Mark III Catalog of Galaxy Peculiar Velocities,” Ap.J. Supp. 109, 333-66 (1997).

Guzmán, Rafael, et al., “The Nature of Compact Galaxies in the Hubble Deep Field. II. Spectroscopic Properties and Implications for the Evolution of the Star Formation Rate Density of the Universe,” Ap.J. 489, 559-72 (1997).

Magorrian, John, et al., “The Demography of Massive Dark Objects in Galaxy Centers,” Astronomical Journal 115, 2285-2305 (1998).

Trager, S.C., Guy Worthey, S.M. Faber, David Burstein, & J. Jesús González, “Old Stellar Populations. VI. Absorption-Line Spectra of Galaxy Nuclei and Globular Clusters,” Ap.J. Supp. 116, 1-28 (1998).

Richstone, D., et al., “Supermassive Black Holes and the Evolution of Galaxies,” Nature 395, A14-A19 (1998).

Gebhardt, Karl, et al., “A Relationship between Nuclear Black Hole Mass and Galaxy Velocity Dispersion,” Ap.J. 539, L13-L16 (2000).

Trager, S.C., S.M. Faber, Guy Worthey, & J. Jesús González, “The Stellar Population Histories of Local Early-Type Galaxies. I. Population Parameters,” Astronomical Journal 119, 1645-76 (2000).

Gebhardt, Karl, et al., “Black Hole Mass Estimates from Reverberation Mapping and from Spatially Resolved Kinematics,” Ap.J. 543, L5-L8 (2000).

Trager, S.C., S.M. Faber, Guy Worthey, & J. Jesús González, “The Stellar Population Histories of Early-Type Galaxies. II. Controlling Parameters of the Stellar Populations,” Astronomical Journal 120, 165-88 (2000).

Somerville, Rachel S., Joel R. Primack, & S.M. Faber, “The Nature of High-redshift Galaxies,” MNRAS 320, 504-28 (2001).

Tremaine, Scott, et al., “The Slope of the Black Hole Mass versus Velocity Dispersion Correlation,” Ap.J. 574, 740-53 (2002).

Simard, Luc, et al., “The DEEP Groth Strip Survey. II. Hubble Space Telescope Structural Parameters of Galaxies in the Groth Strip,” Ap.J. Supp. 142, 1-33 (2002).

Davis, Marc, et al., “Science Objectives and Early Results of the DEEP2 Redshift Survey,” in Proceedings of the SPIE 4834, 161-172 (2003).

Gebhardt, Karl, et al., “Axisymmetric Dynamical Models of the Central Regions of Galaxies,” Ap.J. 583, 92-115 (2003).

Faber, Sandra M., et al., “The DEIMOS Spectrograph for the Keck II Telescope: Integration and Testing,” Proceedings of the SPIE 4841, 1657-69 (2003).

Willmer, C.N.A., et al., “The Deep Evolutionary Exploratory Probe 2 Galaxy Redshift Survey: The Galaxy Luminosity Function to z~1,” Ap.J. 647, 853-73 (2006).

Davis, M., et al., “The All-Wavelength Extended Groth Strip International Survey (AEGIS) Data Sets,” Ap.J. 660, L1-L6 (2007).

Noeske, K. G., et al., “Star Formation in AEGIS Field Galaxies since z=1.1: The Dominance of Gradually Declining Star Formation, and the Main Sequence of Star-forming Galaxies,” Ap.J. 660, L43-L46 (2007).

Faber, S.M., et al., “Galaxy Luminosity Functions to z ~ 1 from DEEP2 and COMBO-17: Implications for Red Galaxy Formation,” Ap.J. 665, 265-94 (2007).

Gültekin, Kayhan, et al., “The M-σ and M-L Relations in Galactic Bulges, and Determinations of Their Intrinsic Scatter,” Ap.J. 698, 198-221 (2009).

Rodney, Steven A., et al., “A Type Ia Supernova at Redshift 1.55 in Hubble Space Telescope Infrared Observations from CANDELS,” Ap.J. 746, id 5 (2012).

Cooper, Michael C., et al., “The DEEP3 Galaxy Redshift Survey: The Impact of Environment on the Size Evolution of Massive Early-type Galaxies at Intermediate Redshift,” MNRAS 419, 3018-27 (2012).

Caputi, K. I., et al., “The Nature of Extremely Red H – [4.5] > 4 Galaxies Revealed With SEDS and CANDELS,” Ap.J. 750, id L20, 1-7 (2012).

Dahlen, Tomas, et al., “A Critical Assessment of Photometric Redshift Methods: A CANDELS Investigation,” Ap.J. 775, id 93, 1-19 (2013).

Fang, Jerome J., S.M. Faber, David C. Koo, & Avishai Dekel, “A Link between Star Formation Quenching and Inner Stellar Mass Density in Sloan Digital Sky Survey Central Galaxies,” Ap.J. 776, id 63, 1-18 (2013).

Cheung, Edmond, et al., “Galaxy Zoo: Observing Secular Evolution through Bars,” Ap.J. 779, id 162, 1-18 (2013).

Worthey, G., A.B. Danilet, & S.M. Faber, “The LickX spectra,” Astronomy & Astrophysics 561, id A36, 1-3 (2014).

Urquhart, J.S., et al., “The RMS survey: galactic distribution of massive star formation,” MNRAS 437, 1791-1807 (2014).

Pharo, John, et al., “The Dwarf Galaxy Population at z0.7: A Catalog of Emission Lines and Redshifts from Deep Keck Observations,” Ap.J. Supp. 261:12 (2022).

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