Wendy Freedman sees our universe a little differently these days, and she’s not alone.
"In the past few decades, our view of the universe that we live in has been completely upended,” says Freedman, the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. “We have learned that most of the matter in the universe is in a ‘dark’ form, unlike the luminous matter in stars and planets — and us. Moreover, the dominant constituent in the universe is a form of dark energy, which is causing the universe to speed up in its expansion.”
Freedman will discuss her research in the field of observational cosmology, which measures the evolution and origin of the universe through observation, at the ninth-annual Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Exploration in Astrophysics (CIERA) Public Lecture. The event will be held from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on October 5 at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street in Evanston. The lecture will be tailored to a general audience and is free and open to the public.
With the major constituents, or ingredients, of the universe now identified, Freedman will reveal how the cosmos hardly resemble what researchers understood only a few decades ago.
Astronomers have discovered thousands of planets beyond our solar system and the expectation is that new giant telescopes planned for the next decade are likely to reveal even more surprises, she says.
Freedman is renowned for her work in resolving a decades-long argument about the value of the Hubble Constant, which is the baseline measurement of the Age of the Universe. It is one of the main reasons astronomers built the Hubble Space Telescope. She also served as chair of the board of directors of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization from 2003-15. The Giant Magellan Telescope will be the largest telescope in the world — 10 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope — when it is completed in 2025.