The Unexpected Universe: how astronomical telescopes continue to reveal new surprises

Professor Wendy Freedman, University Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago

Co-presented with the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) and the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA), School of Physics at the University of Sydney

6 February, 2015

Cosmology in recent decades has been undergoing a revolution. Astronomers have for the first time identified the major constituents of the universe, revealing a universe that barely resembles what we thought only a few decades ago. New giant telescopes planned for the next decade are likely to reveal more surprises. Professor Wendy Freedman, chair of the Board of Directors for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Project, will describe these exciting advances.


Professor Wendy Freedman

Professor Wendy Freedman is one of the world’s most influential
astronomers. For more than a decade, she led a team of 30 astronomers that used the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the current expansion rate of the universe. At the project’s start in the mid-1980s, estimates of the age and size of the universe ranged between 10 and 20 billion years. The project’s final results resolved this long-standing debate, determining the age of the universe as 13.7 billion years with an uncertainty of 10 percent.

Freedman is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society, as well as an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society. Her additional honors include the American Philosophical Society’s Magellanic Prize and the Gruber Cosmology Prize.

Freedman received her PhD from the University of Toronto. Most recently, she was the Crawford H. Greenewalt Director of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena, California. She has also served as chair of the board of directors of the Giant Magellan Telescope project since its inception in 2003.