A trailblazer into the dark heart of the
universe is getting her due.
A major new effort to study the cosmos
is now named after astronomer Vera Rubin, who discovered telltale evidence that
the universe is infused with dark matter.
The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope,
LSST, a U.S.-funded project under construction in Chile, is now known as the Vera
C. Rubin Observatory, scientists announced January 6 at the American
Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu. A bill signed into law
on December 20 makes the name official. Surveying the sky beginning in 2022, the
Rubin Observatory will study dark matter and another shadowy cosmic character, dark energy (SN: 4/13/11).
The honor is “very appropriate,” says
astrophysicist Neta Bahcall of Princeton University. “She was an incredible
scientist, but she was also an incredible person.” Rubin, who died in 2016, was
a staunch advocate for women in science. She battled sexism during her career,
such as an observatory that was once open only to men.