UA Alumnus Returns to Receive Astronomy Award

Sept. 5, 2005
When: 
Friday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m.
Where: 
Steward Observatory N210 933 N. Cherry (NE corner of the UA campus)

An astronomer who has used exploding stars known as supernovae to track the expansion of the universe back some 10 billion years will give a talk at The University of Arizona on Friday, Oct. 28.

Australian National University astronomer Brian Schmidt will give the 2005 Marc Aaronson Memorial Lecture, "The Accelerating Universe" at 7 p.m. in Room N210 in Steward Observatory, 933 N. Cherry.

Schmidt, who attended the UA as an undergraduate, will be honored for his work using exploding stars to study the universe. He will also give a professional colloquium to describe the SkyMapper Telescope, a new facility which will provide the first digital map of the southern sky.

After hearing the first-ever Aaronson Lecture, also on supernovae, by Bob Kirshner of Harvard in 1989, Schmidt decided to attend Harvard for his masters and doctorate degrees in astronomy, with Kirshner as his doctoral advisor.

In 1994 he formed the High-Z SN Search team, a group of 20 astronomers on five continents who used distant exploding stars to trace the expansion of the universe back in time. His group's discovery of an accelerating universe was named Science Magazine's Breakthrough of the Year for 1998.

Schmidt joined the staff at the Australian National University in1995, and was awarded the Australian government's inaugural MalcolmMcIntosh award for achievement in the physical sciences in 2000, theAustralian Academy of Sciences Pawsey Medal in 2001, the AstronomicalSociety of India's Vainu Bappu Medal in 2002, and an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship in 2005.

Schmidt currently lives in Australia, where he continues to work as a professor of astronomy at the Australian National University's Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories using exploding stars to study the universe. In his free time, he grows wine grapes and makes wine.

Marc Aaronson (1950-1987) was a gifted astronomer on the UA faculty whodied in an accident while observing at Kitt Peak, Ariz. Aaronson's research focused on some of the most important problems of observational cosmology: the cosmic distance scale, the age of the universe, the large-scale motion of matter, the distribution of invisible mass in the universe, and the evolution of stars and galaxies.