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The 2014 Prize in Astronomy

Daniel Eisenstein,
Shaun Cole,
John A Peacock

for their contributions to the measurements of features in the large-scale structure of galaxies used to constrain the cosmological model including baryon acoustic oscillations and redshift-space distortions.

 

Learn More About the Laureate

Daniel Eisenstein,<br/>Shaun Cole,<br/>John A Peacock

The Contribution

The Shaw Prize in Astronomy for 2014 is awarded to Daniel Eisenstein of Harvard University, Shaun Cole of Durham University and John A Peacock of the University of Edinburgh. The Laureates are being honoured for measurements of features in the large-scale structure of galaxies used to constrain the cosmological model, including baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) and redshift-space distortions.
 
The early universe was hot and dense. Baryonic matter was highly ionized and consisted of bare nuclei and free electrons, a state known as plasma. Then as now, photons were far more numerous than either nuclei or electrons. As a consequence of photon-electron scattering, the plasma was tightly coupled to the photons. This situation pertained during the first 400,000 years after the big bang. At that point the temperature had dropped to 3000 kelvin and the electrons and nuclei combined into neutral atoms which decoupled from the photons.

 

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An Essay on the Prize

The early universe was hot and dense. Baryonic matter was highly ionized and consisted of bare nuclei and free electrons, a state known as plasma.  Then as now, photons were far more numerous than either nuclei or electrons.  As a consequence of photon-electron scattering, the plasma and photons were tightly coupled into a single fluid whose pressure opposed gravity. This situation pertained during the first 400,000 years after the big bang. At that point the temperature had dropped to 3000 kelvin, the electrons and nuclei combined into neutral atoms which decoupled from the photons, and baryonic matter fell into gravitational potential wells of the dominant dark matter.
 
Primordial density perturbations on all scales arose shortly after the big bang and later seeded the formation of structure from galaxies to superclusters. The density perturbations excited baryon acoustic waves, essentially sound waves, that propagated through the primordial plasma at about half the speed of light prior to decoupling. After decoupling, these waves ceased propagating, thereby imprinting a well-defined length scale of about 500 million light years on matter density correlations at the current epoch.

 

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About the Laureate

Daniel Eisenstein

Daniel Eisenstein

Daniel Eisenstein was born in 1970 in Israel and is currently Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, USA. He graduated from Princeton University in Physics in 1992, obtained his PhD in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1996, and held postdoctoral positions at the Institute for Advanced Study and the University of Chicago. He was on the Astronomy Faculty at the University of Arizona for nine years before joining Harvard University in 2010. He has been active in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey  (SDSS)  and is currently the Director of SDSS III.  

 

 

27 May 2014    Hong Kong

 

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Shaun Cole

Shaun Cole

Shaun Cole was born in 1963 in the UK and is currently Professor in the Department of Physics at Durham University, UK. He graduated from the University of Oxford in Physics in 1982, received his PhD in Astrophysics in 1989 from the University of Cambridge and held a postdoctoral position at the University of California, Berkeley from 1989 to 1991. He joined Durham University in 1991 and became a professor in 2005.


27 May 2014    Hong Kong

 

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

John A Peacock

John A Peacock

John A Peacock was born in 1956 in Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK and is currently Professor of Cosmology in the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh.  He obtained his Bachelor degree in Natural Sciences in 1977 and a PhD in 1980 from the University of Cambridge. He was at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, first as Research Fellow in 1981, then as Tenured Research Astronomer in 1983, becoming the Head of Research in 1992. He has been Professor at the University of Edinburgh since 1998 and was the Head of the Institute for Astronomy from 2007 to 2013.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.


27 May 2014    Hong Kong

 

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Feature Story

 

The Shaw Prize Lecture in Astronomy 2014

"Cosmic Surveys and the Composition of the Universe" by Professor Daniel Eisenstein, Professor Shaun Cole and Professor John A Peacock

The Shaw Prize Public Forum 2014

“Meet The Shaw Laureates 2014 – the Challenges and the Joy of Doing Science”