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|Simon David Manton White|
30 September 1951|
Ashford, Kent, England
Jesus College, Cambridge|
University of Toronto
|Known for||Cosmological structure formation|
Helen 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)
|Fields||Astrophysics and cosmology|
University of California, Berkeley|
University of Arizona
University of Cambridge
Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
|Thesis||The Clustering of Galaxies (1977)|
|Doctoral advisor||Donald Lynden-Bell|
White studied Mathematics at Jesus College, Cambridge in the University of Cambridge (B.A. 1972) and Astronomy at the University of Toronto (M.Sc. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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. The Navarro–Frenk–White profile is named after them.
White's more than 400 publications in the refereed professional literature have been cited about 134,000 times by other scientists (status end-2016 according to Google Scholar).
Awards and honours
- Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, 1986
- Editor of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1992–present
- Fellow of the Royal Society, 1997
- Max-Planck Research Prize for International Cooperation, 2000
- Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics of the AIP/AAS, 2005
- Fellow of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, 2005
- Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2006
- Honorary Doctorate (D.Sc.) at the University of Durham, 2007
- Foreign Associate, US National Academy of Sciences, 2007
- Brouwer Award (Division on Dynamical Astronomy) of the American Astronomical Society, 2008
- European Latsis Prize 2008: Astrophysics
- Fellow of the Academia Europaea, 2009
- Max Born Prize of the German Physical Society and the Institute of Physics, 2010
- Honorary Citizen of the City of Padova, 2010
- Gruber Prize in Cosmology 2011
- Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2015
- Shaw Prize 2017 in Astronomy
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