Astronomer who discovered dark matter dies at 88

Vera Rubin, a pioneering astronomer, died on Sunday.

Vera Rubin with astronaut John Glenn, who also died in 2016.

Jeremy Keith / Flickr Creative Commons

An astronomer who produced the first strong evidence of the existence of dark matter died at the age of 88, the Associated Press reports.

 

Vera Rubin died Sunday night of natural causes, according to her son Allan. Rubin was born in Philadelphia on July 23, 1928 and had been living in Princeton, New Jersey.

 

Rubin pioneered research on the way galaxies rotate. Her discovery that galaxies don't rotate as predictedled to the theory of dark matter — named so because it can't be seen but can be detected by how it distorts the behavior of matter such as planets, stars and galaxies, according to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

 

Dark matter makes up approximately 27 percent of the universe, according to NASA, compared to about 5 percent of "normal" matter (the rest is "dark energy"). Scientists are more sure of what dark matter is not than what it actually is.

 

Rubin earned many honors for her scientific achievements, including the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and the National Medal of Science.She was the second female astronomer to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the AP reports.

Rubin did not, however, win a Nobel Prize for her achievements, though many believe she deserves tht honor for her mark on history.

Many within the scientific community took to Twitter on Monday to remember Rubin and her important work.

 
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