Carnegie’s Miguel Roth Receives Highest Civilian Honor for Non-Chilean: The O’Higgins Order

Pasadena, CA— Miguel Roth, director of Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile from 1990 to 2014 and the current representative of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) in Chile was awarded the Bernardo O’Higgins Order by the Chilean Foreign Affairs Ministry in Santiago today. The honor is in recognition “of his contribution to the development of astronomy in Chile, and for inspiring appreciation and knowledge of astronomy among students and people of all ages.”

The award is the highest civilian honor for non-Chileans. O’Higgins was one of the founders of the Chilean Republic. The award was established in 1965 to recognize “achievements in the field of arts, sciences, education, industry, trade, humanitarian and social cooperation.”

Roth was director of the National Astronomical Observatory at San Pedro Mártir in Baja California, Mexico, before his tenure as director of Las Campanas. During his Carnegie tenure as director, the 6.5-meter twin Magellan Telescopes were planned, constructed, and began operations in 2001 and 2002. Roth oversaw the construction and operations. The twin telescopes have been extremely important to advancing astronomy. They were used to find the most distant black hole yet, and the first spectrum of a neutron star-neutron star merger. Roth has led the Giant Magellan Telescope project in Chile since 2014.   

“During his many years of service, Miguel has been heavily involved in public outreach and connecting the community to the joys of astronomy,” remarked Carnegie Observatories director John Mulchaey. “It began with the Andes-Carnegie Summer School for young students and has continued with more recent activities, such as an astronomy mobile laboratory. Astronomy is a very important connection that we have with the Chileans, and Miguel cannot be more deserving of this distinction.”

Roth earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chile. His interest was in instrumentation, which led him to astronomy. He has studied observational astronomy, including star formation and the early evolution of stars and planetary nebula. More recently he has participated in the Carnegie Supernova Project.