WOMEN IN ASTRONOMY: VERA RUBIN
Vera Rubin was born in 1928 in Philadelphia. She earned her B.A. in 1948 at the women’s college Vassar, as the only student majoring in astronomy that year. Pursuing an academic career in science was not straightforward for women at the time. Princeton University didn’t accept female graduate students until 1975. Vera Rubin pursued her Master’s degree in physics at Cornell University and her PhD at Georgetown University, which she earned in 1954.
Her academic interests focused on dynamics of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. In the 1970s, in collaboration with Ken Ford, using a spectrometer he built, Dr. Rubin studied rotational velocity of galaxies. The spectrometer allowed her to observe shifting of spectral lines in the spectra of distant galaxies, at various distances from their centres in order to determine their rotation.
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