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Fellows Directory

Simon White

Professor Simon White FRS


Elected: 1997


Simon White is an astrophysicist who has made important contributions to the fascinating study of the evolution of galaxies. He is also known for his work on dark matter, which cannot be seen through a telescope but accounts for most of the matter in the Universe. His computer simulations have led to the standard model of growth of structure in the Universe.

He was first to show that when two galaxies merge, the final product is similar to an elliptical galaxy — an egg-shaped galaxy whose stars orbit around the centre like bees in a swarm. With Martin Rees, he proposed that galaxy formation was caused by gas condensing at the centres of dark halos. With other colleagues, he pioneered supercomputer simulations of cosmic structure formation, showing that our Universe appears to be dominated by cold dark matter.

Simon is currently one of four directors at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics. He has published over 500 papers and been cited over 140,000 times. His many awards include, most recently, the 2011 Gruber Prize in Cosmology and the 2017 Shaw Prize in Astronomy.

Professional positions

Director, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Cosmic structure, Dark energy, Dark matter, Galaxies, Numerical astrophysics