Professor Pedro Ferreira has been awarded the Eddington Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society for his investigations “of outstanding merit” into the Lambda Cold Dark Matter model of the universe.
Now an Emeritus Fellow, Pedro was Fellow and Tutor in Physics at Oriel College for the 16 years to 2016. He is a leading figure among astrophysics, recognised for his pioneering work on the Big Bang and the large-scale structure of the universe.
The Lambda Cold Dark Matter model is based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, and the laws of physics, and accounts for a large number of cosmological observations.
It proposes that the universe contains two key ingredients other than ordinary matter: cold dark matter, an invisible glue theorised to be responsible for holding galaxies together, giving the universe its structure, and dark energy, driving the acceleration of the expansion of the universe.
Through studying cosmic microwave background radiation, which contains information about the very early universe and the Big Bang, Pedro has helped to establish the Lambda Cold Dark Matter model as the standard cosmological model which it is today.
His most recent work has focused on constructing possible models of dark matter and dark energy which can be formulated as hypotheses and tested.
While cosmologists are nearly unanimous in their acceptance of the Lambda Cold Dark Matter model, there is uncertainty, and disagreement, as to what exactly dark matter and dark energy are.
Investigating the dark universe has in recent years led Pedro to question whether our confidence in certain core assumptions about the universe might be misplaced.
The Royal Astronomical Society states in its official announcement of the conferment of the Eddington Medal said that, alongside his research, Pedro “has made major contributions to theoretical cosmology as a discipline, mentoring an extraordinary number of new leaders in the field.”
Pedro said that he feels he was “unbelievably lucky to land at Oxford” in his early 30s.
“The quality and creativity of my colleagues and the excellence of students and young researchers were and are such that I feel that I have been riding a wave for the last 25 years,” he added.