2010 Hoyle medal and prize

Professor Carlos S Frenk

Institute for Computational Cosmology, University of Durham

For his major contributions to the development of the now widely accepted cold dark matter model by using cosmological simulations, novel methods for calculating the physics of galaxy formation and analysis of galaxy surveys.

Frenk is a pre-eminent cosmologist who, through the pioneering use of cosmological simulations, has made major contributions to the development of the now widely accepted cold dark matter model of cosmology.

One of the great achievements in physics over the past 25 years is the emergence of a cosmological paradigm, the ‘cold dark matter’ model. Formulated in the 1980s, this model provides the modern view of cosmic evolution, from the Big Bang to the present. A handful of individuals are responsible for this remarkable achievement and Carlos Frenk is one of them.

In a series of influential papers throughout the 1980s, Frenk and colleagues developed the technique of cosmological N-body simulations and used it to lay down the foundation of cold dark matter cosmology. Together with work on the structure of dark matter halos (the ‘Navarro Frenk-White’ profile) in the 1990s and ground-breaking cosmological simulations, such as the Millennium Run in 2005, Frenk’s contribution to modern cosmology is second to none. He is largely responsible for developing the predictions that the cold dark matter theory makes for how galaxies are formed. Once extremely controversial, many of them have been borne out by observations. Frenk led a small group at Durham that participated in the ‘2-degree-field’ galaxy redshift survey which revolutionised our view of the cosmic large-scale structure and proved unequivocal evidence for the existence of dark energy.

Over the last 20 years he has assembled a group at Durham which is now regarded as one of the strongest in the world. In 2002 he established the Institute for Computational Cosmology of which he is Director.

As a founder and tireless promoter of the cold dark matter model, Frenk has played a central role in establishing the UK as a leading nation in cosmological research.