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Science of the Universe

The universe

Only in the last century did scientists really begin to understand the physics of the universe. Putting eyes to telescopes and pencils to paper, 20th century observers and theorists were the first to grasp the vastness of space and glimpse the diversity of its contents.

Today’s scholars of the nighttime sky tell a story of a universe incomprehensibly huge. Once misjudged to be a fixed sphere of stars encircling the sun and planets, the cosmos is now a ballooning expanse of space populated by billions and billions of galaxies, each containing billions and billions of stars.

Astronomical explorers seek answers to several deep questions about the nature of space, the astrophysical objects it contains, and the universe’s composition, history and future.

The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics

The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics is awarded for outstanding achievement in advancing our knowledge and understanding of the origin, evolution and properties of the universe, including the fields of cosmology, astrophysics, astronomy, planetary science, solar physics, space science, astrobiology, astronomical and astrophysical instrumentation, and particle astrophysics.


David Charbonneau
Sara Seager

For their ground-breaking work on the discovery and characterization of extra-solar planets and their atmospheres.

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Conny Aerts
Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard
Roger Ulrich

For their pioneering work and leadership in the development of helioseismology and asteroseismology.

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Andrew Fabian

For his groundbreaking research in the field of observational X-ray astronomy, covering a wide range of topics from gas flows in clusters of galaxies to supermassive black holes at the heart of galaxies.

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Ewine van Dishoeck

For her combined contributions to observational, theoretical, and laboratory astrochemistry, elucidating the life cycle of interstellar clouds and the formation of stars and planets.

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Ronald W.P. Drever
Kip S. Thorne
Rainer Weiss

For the direct detection of gravitational waves.

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Alan H. Guth
Andrei D. Linde
Alexei A. Starobinsky

For pioneering the theory of cosmic inflation.

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Michael Edwards Brown
David C. Jewitt
Jane X. Luu

For discovering and characterizing the Kuiper Belt and its largest members, work that led to a major advance in the understanding of the history of our planetary system.

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James Roger Prior Angel
Jerry E. Nelson
Raymond N. Wilson

For their contributions to the development of giant telescopes.

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Donald Lynden-Bell
Maarten Schmidt

For their contributions to understanding the nature of quasars.

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