Effort To Rename Next-Generation Telescope For Vera Rubin Advances House
The House approved a bill to name the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in honor of late Carnegie DTM scientist Vera Rubin, who confirmed the existence of dark matter.
Rubin received the National Medal of Science for her research on how stars orbit their galactic centers. She revealed that stars at varying distances from the center of a spiral galaxy orbit at the same speed, rather than at decreasing speeds away from the center, providing undeniable evidence that each galaxy is embedded in a halo of dark matter holding its mass together.
She died in December 2016.
“Vera demonstrated intellectual courage and a tireless commitment to discovery, which challenged conventional ideas and transformed our understanding of the matter that makes up our universe,” said Carnegie President Eric D. Isaacs. “We are pleased that this next-generation telescope is one step closer to being named in recognition of her contributions.”
Last month, the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, R-Puerto Rico, introduced the bill to rename the LSST, which is jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.
“The telescope was designed to probe dark matter and dark energy, as well as the structure of our own Milky Way, among other pressing science questions, which makes it a perfect choice to bear Vera’s name,” said Richard Carlson, Director of Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, where Rubin worked.
The bill’s text highlights Rubin’s lifelong commitment to advancing the participation of women in science, noting her service as “a mentor, supporter, and role model to many women astronomers throughout her life.”
“Motivated by her own battle to garner respect as a woman in a male-dominated field, Dr. Rubin worked tirelessly to encourage girls interested in astronomy to pursue their dreams,” Rep. Johnson said in a statement in June.