On past 3th December, at a ceremony in California, the Breakthrough Prize in fundamental physics was awarded to the WMAP “For detailed maps of the early universe that greatly improved our knowledge of the evolution of the cosmos and the fluctuations that seeded the formation of galaxies”. Funded by private sponsors, the Breakthrough Prizes recognize the achievements of scientists in the fields of Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics with awards of $3 million prizes, the largest individual monetary awards in science.
Launched in 2001, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) mapped the cosmic microwave background (CMB) with unprecedented precision during 9 years, opening a new era of quantitative cosmology that led to the establishment of the Standard Model of Cosmology. Among other discoveries, the interpretation of WMPA data allowed scientists to determine age of the universe (about 13.8 billion years), its rate of accelerating expansion (about 70 kilometers per second per megaparsec) and its basic composition (about 5% “normal” matter, 24 % dark matter and 71 % dark energy).
Licia Verde, ICREA researcher at ICCUB (IEEC-UB), joined the WMAP team in 2001, when she was a Chandra Fellow in Princeton University. Among other contributions, she contributed to the cosmological analysis and lead the methodology paper in the 2003 release, the sixth most cited paper in the field of Astronomy and Astrophysics according to Web of Science.
This is not the first time WMAP team has been awarded such an important prize. The team also holds the prestigious Shaw Prize for Astronomy (2010) and the Gruber Prize in Cosmology (2012).
Watch the video of the Breakthrough Award for WMAP! (see the link to the right for the specific time)