Brian P. Schmidt
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011
Born: 24 February 1967, Missoula, MT, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Australian National University, Weston Creek, Australia
Prize motivation: “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae”
Prize share: 1/4
Brian Schmidt grew up in Missoula, Montana, where his father worked as a fisheries biologist. His family later relocated to Anchorage, Alaska. Schmidt received a PhD from Harvard University in 1993 and, moved to Australia the following year, where he was involved in building the High-Z Supernova Search Team, as a part of which he conducted his Nobel Prize-awarded work. Schmidt is a Professor at the Australian National University in Weston Creek, Australia. He is married with two children.
The universe’s stars and galaxies are moving away from one another; the universe is expanding. Up until recently, the majority of astrophysicists believed that this expansion would eventually wane, due to the effect of opposing gravitational forces. Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt, and Adam Riess studied exploding stars, called supernovae. Because the light emitted by stars appears weaker from a larger distance and takes on a reddish hue as it moves further from the observer, the researchers were able to determine how the supernovae moved. In 1998 they reached a surprising result: the universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate.