June 10, 2023 1:22 am

Johanna Teske: Ok, this is a spectrum.

Teske: Vera Rubin suggests a lot to a lot of astronomers. This was a single of the instruments that she utilised to support uncover the presence of dark matter, which we now know is the dominant kind of matter in our universe.

Teske: She seriously was portion of attempting to push astronomy to be much more inclusive, and make much more possibilities for females in science and astronomy.


In 1942, a fourteen-year old teenager named Vera Rubin constructed a telescope with her father out of cardboard.

She would go on to modify our understanding of galaxies — and open doors for female astronomers.

Alycia Weinberger: She is frequently credited as the mother of dark matter, for the reason that the science that she is most effectively identified for is discovering that galaxies appear to have a lot much more mass in their outskirts than can be accounted for by the quantity of visible light coming from their stars.


in 1948 she received a bachelor’s from Vassar in astronomy —  the only astronomy graduate.

Soon after becoming rejected from Princeton for becoming female—  Vera enrolled in Cornell as an alternative,

exactly where she studied 109 galaxies and produced a single of the 1st observations of Hubble’s law

 — or how galaxies move in relation to every other.

Princeton wouldn’t admit females to its astronomy system for a different 27 years.

Teske: For a extended time, females weren’t highlighted or their roles in science weren’t highlighted as a great deal.


Soon after years of teaching, Vera C. Rubin joined the Carnegie Institute for Terrestrial Magnetism in 1965 exactly where she met collaborator Kent Ford. With Kent Ford, she utilised a spectrometer to analyze spiral galaxies like Andromeda galaxy,  about two.five million light years away.

Weinberger: Very cautiously and taking benefit of new instrumentation that was created right here, was in a position to measure how rapid stars in the outer components of galaxies had been rotating about their centers.

Weinberger: She was especially interested in taking spectra. So that is exactly where we break up the element light from an astronomical object into its element colors, which give us a lot of information and facts about how that object is moving and what it is composed of.


She and Ford discovered one thing surprising.

Weinberger: Vera found that the outer reaches of galaxies seemed to be moving as well swiftly. That led to the hypothesis that there is some sort of dark matter, that is matter that has gravity, but does not interact with light or does not create late, that could clarify these peculiar rotation curves.

Teske: These are observations that she type of painstakingly produced.

— Yeah just you know, our preferred UGC.

Teske: And I could just think about how it was controversial at the time. This also turned out to be accurate about exoplanets, which is what I perform on.


Rubin kept on generating flat curves for decades till her outcomes could no longer be denied.

Along with Kent Ford, she analyzed more than sixty galaxies.

Vera Rubin also continued to fight for females her whole life.

Weinberger: So Vera was an extremely sturdy presence in this division for a lot of years. She had a tremendous influence on the way I believed about females in science and the capabilities of females. She stated, there is no science that can be carried out by a man that can not be carried out by a lady.


In spite of a lifetime of accomplishment, Vera Rubin by no means won a Nobel Prize.

Teske: And I was so angry that she hadn’t that, you know, a Nobel Prize in the time that she was alive. But that is not the finish all, be all. And there are lots of other strategies to honor men and women.


Vera Rubin is the 1st lady to have an observatory — the Vera C. Observatory — named in her honor.

She also received the National Medal of Science.

Teske: I like to consider that we’re carrying forward that legacy of encouraging curiosity in absolutely everyone, seriously, and emphasizing that there’s lots of strategies to do science, a lot of approaches to science, and that if you are hardworking and curious and have a query, that it is worth, worth investigating.

Leave a Reply