Internationally known astronomer R. Brent Tully funds endowment to bring stars to UH

April 15, 2015  |   |  Comments
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Brent Tully and Günther Hasinger

Brent Tully and Günther Hasinger

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy researcher R. Brent Tully made world news when he identified the full extent of earth’ home supercluster of 100 thousand galaxies and named it Laniakea. The recipient of numerous prestigious astronomical awards, he has chosen to build on the Institute for Astronomy’s global prominence by using $264,000 of his prize money to establish the R. Brent Tully Distinguished Visitors Endowed Fund.

This fund will enhance learning and collegiality between astronomers at the Institute for Astronomy and other astronomers around the world by funding visits by other astronomers to the institute for lectures, joint research and other partnerships.

“Science advances through interactions between researchers,” said Institute for Astronomy Director Günther Hasinger. “This fund will facilitate visits by researchers, from students to senior astronomers, to IfA. While Hawaiʻi offers astronomers important research opportunities because of the strength of IfA and the world-class observing facilities on Mauna Kea and Haleakalā, our geographic isolation can pose financial challenges. This fund will address these barriers and help further the cross-pollination of ideas so vital for innovation. We are most grateful to Brent for his vision and incredible generosity.”

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Tully received bachelor and doctoral degrees from the universities of British Columbia and Maryland. Following graduation, he took a year off to go around the world, before settling in the south of France for two years as a postdoctoral fellow. It was during that period that he was involved in the publication of what became known as the Tully-Fisher Relation, a method for determining the distances to galaxies, and thus the scale and age of the universe.

Immediately afterward, Tully joined the faculty at UH, where he has built his career over forty years. His interests have focused on the nature of the large-scale structure of the universe, by examining how galaxies form and gather together through the gravitational influence of mysterious dark matter. Over the years he has been involved in efforts to map the near part of the universe. This work culminated in the identification of the full extent of earth’s home supercluster of 100 thousand galaxies that he named the Laniakea Supercluster.

“Some of the most exciting, energizing times in science arise when colleagues meet face-to-face,” said Tully. “It is easy to get people to come to Hawaiʻi, both for our facilities and the natural bounty, when the financial burden is not too great. If I help people from around the world to talk to each other, then I am content.”

Tully has been recognized by a University of Hawaiʻi Regent’s Medal for Excellence in Research; a University of Maryland Distinguished Alumnus Award; the Wempe Award of the Leibnitz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, Germany; the Viktor Ambartsumian International Prize, Armenia; and the Gruber Prize in Cosmology.

More on the Laniakea supercluster

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