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merican researcher Vera Rubin, a specialist in astronomy, a pioneer in the study of dark matter in the Universe, whose name was often cited on the list of favorites for the Nobel Prize, but had never won the prize despite deserving it more than others. People do not realize the importance of dark matter in understanding the universe. Sadly, Vera has passed away at the age of 88 in 2016, but her work shall never be forgotten.

A legacy worth millions

Vera Rubin died Sunday in a nursing home in Princeton, New Jersey, and has been suffering from dementia for several years, revealed her son Alan Rubin, a professor of Earth sciences at Princeton University. Born in Philadelphia, Vera Rubin used the rotation of galaxies to discover the first direct evidence of dark matter in the 1970s while working for the Carnegie Institution in Washington. Collaborating with spectator creator Kent Ford, Vera Rubin discovered that matter at the edge of galaxies rotates at the same speed as matter in the center of galaxies.

The astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., in 1965. (Source: Archives & Special Collections, Vassar College Library)

That discovery contradicted the hitherto known laws of physics that the mass of a galaxy is greater in its center, made up of cosmic dust, stars, and cosmic gases, and should rotate faster than the matter at the periphery of the galaxy. , which has a smaller mass. The explanation consists in a halo of dark matter that exists around galaxies and that uniformizes the mass inside galaxies. Dark matter has not been directly observed but has been deduced from research by Vera Rubin and other astronomers and physicists.

A great discovery for astronomy

Scientists have discovered that a small part of dark matter is made up of neutrino particles — particles that move at very high speeds but do not interact with ordinary matter. Emily Levesque, an astronomer at the University of Washington, told Astronomy in June that Vera Rubin deserved the Nobel Prize because the discovery of dark matter revolutionized astronomy and the concept of the universe.

In astronomy and cosmology, dark matter is currently an unknown type of matter that is thought to contain much of the total mass of the universe. Dark matter does not emit or absorb light or electromagnetic or other radiation, and therefore cannot be observed directly with telescopes. It is estimated that dark matter makes up 83% of the matter in the universe and 23% of its mass-energy. (Vera Rubin)

Vera Rubin graduated from the prestigious Vassar College in 1948 and obtained a degree in astronomy. He earned a master’s degree from Cornell University and a doctorate from Georgetown University in Washington. She was the second female astronomer elected to the National Academy of Sciences in the United States and received the National Medal of Science, which was awarded to her by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Vera Rubin in 2002 (Source: Archives & Special Collections, Vassar College Library)

Vera Rubin was married to Dr. Robert Rubin of Chemistry. 1948 until his death in 2008. The two had four children — David, Judith, Karl and Allan — who each have doctorates in natural sciences or mathematics. Even to this day, her not receiving a Nobel prize for her discovery is questioned. Not matter if she has a prize or not, her work is highly regarded in the science world and especially in astronomy.

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