Professor Jane Luu was awarded the 2012 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics and the 2012 Shaw Prize alongside Professor David Jewitt for the discovery and characterisation of objects in the Kuiper Belt, a swarm of icy bodies in the outer solar system.
Before Luu’s discovery in 1992, many astronomers thought we already knew everything that made up our solar system. This perception of the solar system was over-turned when Luu and her team discovered an object in the outer solar system, far beyond the orbit of Neptune.
Based on orbits inside the Kuiper Belt, astronomers have learned that the early solar system was not always the orderly place it now is, and that the configuration of the giant planets was very different from what it is today.
Earlier in the day the Royal Society hosted a symposium in partnership with the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on cosmology and astrophysics. The symposium brought together top cosmologists and astrophysicists from across the globe to discuss a variety of topics including the origins of the Universe, and what the Higgs boson means for cosmology. Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon attended the symposium.