Simon White

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Simon David Manton White
Simon White at RAS NAM 2012.jpg
Simon White speaking at the 2012 National Astronomy Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society
Born (1951-09-30) 30 September 1951 (age 69)
Ashford, Kent, England
Alma materJesus College, Cambridge
University of Toronto
Known forCosmological structure formation
Spouse(s)Guinevere Kauffmann
AwardsHelen B. Warner Prize (1986)
Heineman Prize (2005)
Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (2006)
Brouwer Award (2008)
Max Born Prize (2010)
Shaw Prize (2017)
Scientific career
FieldsAstrophysics and cosmology
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
University of Arizona
University of Cambridge
Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
ThesisThe Clustering of Galaxies[1] (1977)
Doctoral advisorDonald Lynden-Bell

Simon David Manton White (born 30 September 1951), FRS, is a British astrophysicist. He was one of directors at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics before his retirement in late 2019.[2]


White studied Mathematics at Jesus College, Cambridge in the University of Cambridge (B.A. 1972) and Astronomy at the University of Toronto (MSc 1974). In 1977 he obtained a doctorate in Astronomy under Donald Lynden-Bell entitled "The Clustering of Galaxies" at the University of Cambridge. After a few years at the University of California, Berkeley, the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona and the University of Cambridge he was appointed in 1994 as a Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society and as Director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching. White is also Research Professor at the University of Arizona (1992), Guest Professor at the University of Durham (1995) Honorary Professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich (1994) and at the Astronomical Observatories of Shanghai (SHAO) (1999) and Beijing (BAO) (2001). White lives in Munich with his wife, the astrophysicist Guinevere Kauffmann, and their son Jonathan.[3]


White has worked primarily on the formation of structure in the Universe. He is known for his contributions to our understanding of galaxy formation and for his role in helping to establish the viability of the current standard model for the evolution of cosmic structure, the so-called ΛCDM model.

Already at the time of his doctoral work he studied the influence of Dark Matter on the growth of structure and in 1978 he and Martin Rees argued that the properties of galaxies can be understood if they form by condensation of gas at the centres of extended and hierarchically clustering dark matter halos.[4]

In later years White developed computer models which allowed the growth of galaxies and galaxy clustering to be simulated directly in order to allow quantitative comparison of theoretical models with astronomical observations. His work with Marc Davis, George Efstathiou and Carlos Frenk was particularly influential in establishing that a universe dominated by Cold Dark Matter could produce large-scale structure in the galaxy distribution which closely resembles that observed.[5] A more recent large project was the Millennium Simulation, carried out in Garching in 2005 as part of the work of a large international collaboration, the Virgo Consortium. This simulation followed the formation of more than 2,000,000 galaxies throughout a cubic region more than 2 billion light-years on a side.[6]

Work by White has addressed issues of stellar dynamics, of the detailed structure of galaxies and their dark halos, of the processes controlling galaxy formation, of the structure and evolution of galaxy clusters, and of the statistics of galaxy clustering. Papers include those with Julio Navarro and Carlos Frenk on the "universal" structure of dark matter halos.[7] The Navarro–Frenk–White profile is named after them.

White's more than 500 publications in the refereed professional literature have been cited more than 193,000 times by other scientists (status mid-2020 according to Google Scholar).

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ Simon White at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ He is now one of emeritus scientific members along with other former directors Wolfgang Hillebrandt and Rashid Sunyaev. There was a special symposium on 29 November 2019 at MPA to celebrate his retirement.
  3. ^ "Simon D. M. White". Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  4. ^ White, Simon; Rees, Martin (May 1978). "Core condensation in heavy halos - A two-stage theory for galaxy formation and clustering". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 183 (3): 341–358. Bibcode:1978MNRAS.183..341W. doi:10.1093/mnras/183.3.341.
  5. ^ Davis, Marc; Efstathiou, George; Frenk, Carlos; White, Simon (May 1985). "The evolution of large-scale structure in a universe dominated by cold dark matter". The Astrophysical Journal. 292: 371–394. Bibcode:1985ApJ...292..371D. doi:10.1086/163168.
  6. ^ Springel, Volker; et al. (June 2005). "Simulations of the formation, evolution and clustering of galaxies and quasars". Nature. 435 (7042): 629–636. arXiv:astro-ph/0504097. Bibcode:2005Natur.435..629S. doi:10.1038/nature03597. PMID 15931216. S2CID 4383030.
  7. ^ Navarro, Julio; Frenk, Carlos; White, Simon (December 1997). "A Universal Density Profile from Hierarchical Clustering". The Astrophysical Journal. 490 (2): 493–508. arXiv:astro-ph/9611107. Bibcode:1997ApJ...490..493N. doi:10.1086/304888. S2CID 3067250.
  8. ^ "'Gang of Four' Receives $500,000 Gruber Cosmology Prize for Reconstructing How the Universe Grew" (Press release). Gruber Foundation. 1 June 2011. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011.
  9. ^ "关于公布2015年中国科学院院士增选当选院士名单的公告" [Announcement on the publication of the list of academicians elected to the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2015] (in Chinese). Chinese Academy of Sciences. 7 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Announcement of The Shaw Laureates 2017" (Press release). The Shaw Prize. 23 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Clarivate Reveals 2020 Citation Laureates - Annual List of Researchers of Nobel Class". PR Newswire. 23 September 2020.

External links[edit]