Talk Title: Early Kitt Peak, Bright Galaxies, and Dark Matter
9:00 a.m. March 17, 2010
Tucson Marriott University Park
Dr. Vera Rubin
Description: We live in a Universe that is incredibly large and surprisingly complex. One of its many remarkable features is that we can understand some parts of it. I will describe my early observations at Kitt Peak and Lowell Observatories which led to the conclusions that most of the matter in the Universe is dark, not radiating at any wavelength. This may ultimately teach us fundamental new features about our Universe.
About the Speaker
Vera Rubin was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Washington, D.C. She earned her B.A. at Vassar College and her M.A. at Cornell University, where she made one of the first studies of deviations from the Hubble flow in the motions of galaxies. This work turned out to be the precursor of studies of the local supercluster. After earning her Ph.D. at Georgetown University under George Gamow, she taught at Montgomery County Junior College and at Georgetown. Since 1965 she has been at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. There she joined with W. Kent Ford, Jr., inventor of an image tube spectrograph, to measure rotation curves of spiral galaxies (and later, ellipticals as well). This work, which she has extended considerably as CCDs have replaced image tubes, led to the surprising discovery that most of the mass in galaxies is dark and that it resides in the outer parts, or haloes. She has been a leader in the study of the structure of galaxies, their internal motions, and large-scale motions in the Universe. Stating that she was inspired by the example of Maria Mitchell, Rubin has herself been an inspiration and mentor to many younger astronomers. She is at least as proud of her four children, all of whom have Ph.D.’s in math or science, as of her scientific achievements.
Biographical information via Bruce Medalists site.