Massive Science: Meet Vera Rubin, the Stargazer Who Predicted Dark Matter

From childhood, she preferred ‘to stay up and watch the stars than go to sleep’

In the 1970s, Vera Rubin discovered that stars on the outskirts of galaxies travelled much faster than predicted by the law of gravity. The only plausible explanation is that galaxies have much more mass than could be inferred from visible stars alone.

That extra mass became known as “dark matter,” the elusive, invisible, as-of-yet unobserved thing that scientists mostly agree makes up 90 percent of the universe.

She battled sexist norms through her career. She remained a staunch advocate and mentor for women in science throughout her career, even at times when the glass ceiling was more like a concrete wall. She was known for being encouraging and inspirational, but also for throwing her weight around when it mattered.

by Brittney G. Borowiec

Science Topics
Women & Girls, Role Models
High School
9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, Adults

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