Vera Rubin

(1928 – 2016)


Vera is famous for discovering that stars in the outer bits of spiral galaxies, like the Milky Way, move a lot faster than you would expect. This means that galaxies contain at least five to ten times as much ‘invisible’ matter as ordinary matter – the first direct evidence of the mysterious ‘dark’ matter component in our Universe.

She studied astrophysics at Vassar College and got a PhD from Cornell University and Georgetown University. After various other research positions, she joined the Carnegie Institution of Washington as staff. She has always fought for the inclusion of women in science. In her words; “we have learned that a woman too can rise to great heights as an astronomer, and that it’s all right to be charming, gracious, brilliant, and to be concerned for others as we make our way in the world of science.”