UH astronomer to share major astronomy prize

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Jul 24, 2007

University of Hawai'i astronomer John L. Tonry is a member of a research team that has won the $500,000 Gruber Cosmology Prize for the discovery that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating.

Two teams of astronomers, one led by Brian Schmidt (Australian National University) and the other led by Saul Perlmutter (University of California, Berkeley), set out to look for evidence that the expansion of the Universe was slowing down as a result of gravitational forces between the galaxies. To everyone's surprise, both teams discovered that the expansion of the Universe is apparently accelerating, and that the Universe will expand forever.

The force that is causing the Universe to expand at an ever-increasing rate has been dubbed "dark energy," but its nature is another great mystery.

Dr. Tonry's particular contribution was the 1997 discovery of crucial supernovae explosions in distant galaxies using the Canada-France-Hawai'i Telescope on Mauna Kea. He explains, "It was the CFHT data coupled with data from the Keck Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope that were the key to identifying the accelerating Universe."

Institute for Astronomy Director Rolf Kudritzki added, "The University can be very proud of being associated with this prize. Dr. Tonry is an enormously accomplished researcher, and I am delighted that his contributions are being recognized in this way."

The Gruber Cosmology Prize honors a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical or conceptual discoveries leading to fundamental advances in the field. The teams will receive the prize at a ceremony at the University of Cambridge on September 7.

See http://gruberprizes.org/GruberPrizes/Cosmology_PressRelease.php?awardid=42 for more information.

About the Institute for Astronomy
The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea.

For more information, visit: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/press-releases/Gruber-07-07.html