The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Jan. 30 that University of Chicago Prof. Emeritus Eugene Parker has been awarded the 2020 Crafoord Prize in Astronomy.
Awarded every three years, the prestigious Crafoord Prize consists of a gold medal and a sum of six million Swedish krona (about $600,000)—one of the largest prizes in science.
The Academy, which is also responsible for selecting Nobel Prize winners, cited Parker for his “pioneering and fundamental studies of the solar wind and magnetic fields from stellar to galactic scales.”
Parker is widely known for his proposal of the solar wind, which radically changed scientists’ understanding of the solar system. He suggested, and spacecraft later confirmed, that the sun radiates an intense stream of charged particles that travel throughout the solar system at supersonic speeds. The discovery reshaped our view of space, stars and their surroundings, and it laid the foundations for a new field of astrophysics.
“I am humbled by the award of the Crafoord Prize,” said Parker, now 92. “It gives strong incentive for maintaining the historic high level of research that merits the prize.”