Durham University: Prestigious award for galaxy evolution research

At Durham we have run millions of hours of high-power supercomputer simulations to show how galaxies have evolved over cosmic time according to the laws of physics.

Much of this research has been led by Professor Carlos Frenk, founder and former director of our world-leading Institute for Computational Cosmology.

Carlos has been recognised for this work by The Royal Society, which has awarded him the Rumford Medal for outstanding Physics research.

He joins a long list of recipients of the medal including the likes of Michael Faraday and Louis Pasteur.

Dark Matter
Carlos is one of the originators of the “Cold dark matter” theory for the formation of structure in the universe.

Working with scientists across the world he uses supercomputers to build model universes, based on the known laws of physics.

Together they aim to understand how the universe evolved from the simplicity of the Big Bang to today’s complex state full of myriad structures such as galaxies, stars and planets. This evolution is largely driven by the gravity of the still mysterious dark matter.

Supercomputer simulations
The work of Carlos and colleagues has established Durham as a leading international centre for supercomputer simulations of galaxies and cosmic structure.

In 2020 this work also won Carlos the Paul Dirac Medal and Prize and he was named one of only 24 Clarivate 2020 Citation Laureates whose work is deemed to be “of Nobel class”.

He also holds the Royal Astronomical Society’s highest honour, the Gold Medal for Astronomy, whose previous recipients include Albert Einstein, Charles Babbage and Edwin Hubble.

Carlos’s medal is one of a number of honours presented by the Royal Society including the award of the Copley Medal to Durham honorary graduate Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell for her work on the discovery of pulsars, one of the major astronomical advances of the 20th century.

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