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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Vera Rubin: Into the dark matter

Rubin in 2009  (NASA photo)
Famed astronomer Vera Rubin’s life force has now merged back into the universal one, perhaps into the dark matter that she helped to identify.

When Rubin “found that galaxies don’t quite rotate the way they were predicted,” she suspected the presence of a different force.  The universe is now thought to contain 27 percent of this “dark matter” force. Comparatively speaking, only 5 percent of the universe consists of
“normal matter.”

Rubin had numerous dark forces to contend with here on Earth.  As a pioneering female astronomer, she ran up against “a number of barriers along the way.”  Back then, women were not even allowed to enroll in Princeton’s graduate astronomy program. 

Against these (or any) odds, Rubin’s contributions were many:  During her long and vibrant career, she “examined more than 200 galaxies.”


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