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The 2021 Prize in Astronomy

Victoria M Kaspi
Chryssa Kouveliotou

for their contributions to our understanding of magnetars, a class of highly magnetized neutron stars that are linked to a wide range of spectacular, transient astrophysical phenomena. Through the development of new and precise observational techniques, they confirmed the existence of neutron stars with ultra-strong magnetic fields and characterized their physical properties. Their work has established magnetars as a new and important class of astrophysical objects.

 

Learn More About the Laureate

Victoria M Kaspi<br/>Chryssa Kouveliotou

The Contribution

The Shaw Prize in Astronomy 2021 is awarded in equal shares to Victoria M Kaspi, Professor of Physics and Director of McGill Space Institute, McGill University, Canada and Chryssa Kouveliotou, Professor and Chair, Department of Physics at George Washington University, USA for their contributions to our understanding of magnetars, a class of highly magnetized neutron stars that are linked to a wide range of spectacular, transient astrophysical phenomena. Through the development of new and precise observational techniques, they confirmed the existence of neutron stars with ultra-strong magnetic fields and characterized their physical properties. Their work has established magnetars as a new and important class of astrophysical objects.
 
Neutron stars are the ultra-compact remnants of stellar explosions. Most are rapidly rotating with periods of milli-seconds to seconds, and emit powerful beams of electromagnetic radiation (observed as pulsars). As such they are accurate “cosmic clocks” that enable tests of fundamental physics in the presence of a gravitational field many billion times stronger than that on Earth. As a result, the Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded twice for work on pulsars (1974 and 1993).

 

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About the Laureate 

 

Victoria M Kaspi

Victoria M Kaspi was born in 1967 in Austin, Texas, USA and is currently a Professor of Physics and Director of McGill Space Institute, McGill University, Canada. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Physics from McGill University in 1989 and obtained her MA and PhD in Physics from Princeton University, USA in 1991 and 1993 respectively. After positions at the California Institute of Technology, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she then became Assistant Professor at McGill in 1999. At McGill, she held one of McGill’s first Canada Research Chairs and she was named the Lorne Trottier Professor of Astrophysics in 2006. She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. 

 

1 June 2021    Hong Kong   

 

 

 

Chryssa Kouveliotou

Chryssa Kouveliotou was born in 1953 in Athens, Greece and is currently a Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics at George Washington University, USA. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece in 1975, completed an MA in Science at the University of Sussex in 1977 and obtained a PhD in Astrophysics from the Technical University of Munich, Germany in 1981. She was an Assistant Professor at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (1982–1994). She joined NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in 1991. In 2015, she moved to George Washington University as Professor of Physics. She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Art and Sciences and the Academy of Athens, Greece. 

 

1 June 2021    Hong Kong