A project carried out by Chilean astronomers laid the groundwork for the research behind the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics.
The prestigious prize was awarded to U.S. astronomers Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess, along with Australian scientist, Brian Schmidt, for their joint findings on the accelerating expansion of the universe.
The research relied heavily on the Calán Tololo survey project conducted by the Astronomy Department at the Universidad de Chile in the early 1990s.
An official statement from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences paid tribute to the Chilean scientists at the prestigious public university, describing them as an important support for the award-winning project.
Information about giant supernovas gathered by the Calán Tololo project played a pivotal role in the discoveries made by Perlmutter, Riess and Schmidt.
Lead researcher on the Chilean project, Mario Humay, described the official recognition as one of the most significant achievements in the history of Chilean science.
“I can’t remember a Chilean research project providing such direct support in a Nobel Prize for Physics ever before,” he told Radio Universidad de Chile.
“It is a stimulus for new generations of astronomers who will be able to take advantage of the benefits that Chile offers in this field, and in the future, they too may be awarded a prize of this caliber.”
Humay stressed that the natural conditions in Chile as well as the high-quality infrastructure and the human capital made it an excellent location for conducting astronomical research.
“Currently there is an important advance in the quantity and quality of this type of research being conducted in Chile,” he said.
“If you look at the works that are being published as a result of this research, those papers are having an impact that is around 30 percent higher than the international average.”