Galactic archaeologist wins prestigious award

13 June 2014

ANU astronomer Professor Ken Freeman has won the prestigious 2014 Gruber Cosmology Prize for his revolutionary work on the formation of galaxies, such as our own Milky Way.

“I’m delighted to have the award, and particularly delighted to be sharing it with this group of old colleagues,” Professor Freeman said.

In the 1970s Professor Freeman was one of the first people to point out that spiral galaxies contain a large fraction of dark matter. His subsequent work in reconstructing the star formation history of the galaxy gave rise to the field now known as galactic archaeology.

Professor Freeman shares the prize with Jaan Einasto, R. Brent Tully, and Sidney van den Bergh.

"Through their observations and analyses of the structure and evolution of the nearby universe, Jaan Einasto, Kenneth Freeman, R. Brent Tully, and Sidney van den Bergh provided essential elements in the study of the behavior of the universe on the largest scales,” the citation says.

The Gruber prize will go alongside Professor Freeman’s other accolades that include the Matthew Flinders Medal of the Australian Academy of Science (2013), the Dannie Heineman prize of the American Institute of Physics and the American Astronomical Society (1999), the Prime Minister’s Science Prize (2012) and the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship of the American Astronomical Society.

He has been a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science since 1981 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London since 1998.

The Gruber Foundation honors and encourages educational excellence in the fields of Cosmology, Genetics, Neuroscience, Justice and Women's Rights.