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Rubin, Vera Cooper

dark matter galaxy deduced

(1928– ) US astronomer.

Educated at Cornell and Georgetown, DC, Rubin joined the Carnegie Institution in 1965 and worked there and at Mount Wilson Observatory thereafter. Her work focused on spiral galaxies and particularly on their velocity of rotation. She showed in the 1980s that this velocity, which she found tends to increase for stars the further they are from the centre of their galaxy, implied that galaxies had masses greater than could be deduced from their visible content of stars. The inevitable conclusion was that some ‘dark matter’, not emitting any detectable radiation, was present. By 1983 she believed that 90% of the universe’s mass might exist in the form of dark matter. Ever since, widespread efforts have been made to learn more about it, with only limited success. Neutrinos, of low weight but if present in large numbers, are a possible answer. From 1993 some dark matter was deduced to be stray planets and brown dwarfs (MACHOS, massive astrophysical compact halo objects) which by 1996 were held to make up about half of the dark matter in the halo of our own galaxy (the Milky Way).

Rubinstein, Helena - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Helena Rubinstein, Social and Economic Impact [next] [back] Rubbia, Carlo

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