Everything that is outside our own galaxy, the Milky
Way, is extragalactic. For more than forty years, the French
astrophysicist Françoise Combes has explored how distant galaxies form,
evolve, merge and die. On 21 September, she received the Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award 2017.
– I’m very honoured to receive this award and I’m also
very impressed by Lise Meitner herself. She was a very strong and
courageous woman who conducted her research when the conditions were
very difficult for a woman. Only men were allowed in the laboratory’s,
but she was persistent, had her vision and she understood nuclear
fission,” says Françoise Combes, Professor at l’Observatoire de Paris.
The Gothenburg Physics Centre awarded her "for ground-breaking work in
extragalactic astronomy on fundamental aspects of the physics and
evolution of galaxies."
– My research is about understanding how the universe has been
formed. Since we still cannot explain the high velocities within a
galaxy, for example when a star is moving, we need to find the answers.
Either it’s the unknown particles dark matter that causes the force – or
the law of gravity must be modified. In my research, we do simulations
of galaxies and modified gravity, “says Françoise Combes.
She held an exciting lecture in connection with the award ceremony in Gothenburg. The talk entitled "When Supermassive Black Holes are Too Greedy"
opened a window to the extragalactic parts of the universe. The holes
actually absorb, or eat, more than they can digest and therefore they
expel their “food” outside galaxies.
– Until 1920, we did not know that there existed other galaxies,
outside our own. Now we know a lot more about extragalactic astronomy.
Did you for example know that the Milky Way has a diameter of 100 000
lightyears, and the next big galaxy, Andromeda, is 3 000 000 lightyears
Read the abstract and learn more about Françoise Combes
Watch the award lecture "When Supermassive Black Holes are Too Greedy"