Archive for Vera Rubin

The Largest Known Spiral Galaxy – UGC 2885

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2020 by telescoper

So here I am, Christmas break over, waiting in Cardiff Airport for my flight back to civilization. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share this wonderful picture, courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope, of the galaxy UGC 2885 – the largest known spiral galaxy. You can click on the picture to make it bigger or if you really are a size queen you can download an ultra-high=resolution version here.

UGC 2885 is located about 71 Mpc (232 million light-years) from us, in the direction of the constellation Perseus. The galaxy is 2.5 times wider than our own Milky Way and contains approximately 10 times as many stars. A number of foreground stars (in our Galaxy), identified by the diffraction crosses produced by unresolved point sources, can be seen in the image, including one superimposed on the disk of the galaxy, to the left of its centre. The galaxy UGC 2885 has been nicknamed “Rubin’s galaxy” after Vera Rubin, the astronomer who studied the rotation of the galaxy and found evidence for dark matter therein.

There is a very interesting and informative thread on Twitter by Benne Holwerda covering the background to this latest image of the galaxy:

If you click on the above it will take you to Twitter where you can read the series of linked tweets on this subject by clicking on `show this thread’.

The 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics: could it be Vera Rubin?

Posted in Science Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on October 4, 2015 by telescoper

Just a quick note to point out that the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics will be announced next Tuesday, 6th October. According to the Nobel Foundation’s website the announcement will be made “no earlier than 11.45am” Swedish time, which is one hour ahead of British Summer Time.

As is the case every year there’s quite a lot of speculation going on about who might garner this year’s prize. There’s a piece in Nature and another in Physics World, to give just two examples. There’s also the annual prediction from Thomson Reuters, which has never to my knowledge been correct (although some of the names they have suggested for a given year have won it in a subsequent year); perhaps they will strike lucky this time round.

For myself, I’ll just say that I think Vera Rubin is conspicuous by her absence from the list of Nobel Physics laureates – her classic work on galactic rotation and the evidence for dark matter in galaxies surely deserves an award, possibly alongside Kent Ford. Most Nobel Prizes are awarded for work done decades before the year of the award; the research in this case was mostly done in the 1970s. I think recognition is long overdue. I’m biased in favour of astronomy, of course, but my fingers will be crossed that Vera Rubin’s time will come on Tuesday!

I’m not going to open a book  – even Ladbrokes stopped taking bets on the Nobel Prize for Physics some years ago! – but I’d be interested to hear opinions through the comments box…