ANU Professor Brian Schmidt has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics, sharing his award with Professor Saul Perlmutter from the University of California, Berkeley, and Professor Adam Riess from the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
U.S. Born Australian Professor Schmidt was honoured "for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae" according to the Prize announcement.
"For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up the Universe will end in ice.
The acceleration is thought to be driven by dark energy, but what that dark energy is remains an enigma - perhaps the greatest in physics today. What is known is that dark energy constitutes about three quarters of the Universe. Therefore the findings of the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physics have helped to unveil a Universe that to a large extent is unknown to science. And everything is possible again."
Professor Schmidt becomes only the 12th Australian to ever win a Nobel Prize, and joins a collection of Australia's greatest academic minds including Howard Florey and William and Lawrence Bragg.
The award demonstrates the value of Australia's commitment to world class Astronomy facilities such as Mt Stromlo where Professor Schmidt, and serves as a huge inspiration to all Australian scientists and students alike.
Australia is incredibly proud to see Professor Schmidt take out this award, and it comes as one of Australia's best achievements in the field of physics, having last one the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915.
Congratulations Professor Schmidt.