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An Astrophysicist Who Maps the Universe’s Terra Incognita

Priyamvada Natarajan, a theoretical astrophysicist and professor at Yale University, creates maps of where dark matter is clumped and how dark energy stretches space. She also models the growth of those supermassive black holes and helped develop the leading theory of their formation in the early universe — a theory that will be tested by telescope observations in the near future. In a recent interview in her office in New Haven, Natarajan said she’s drawn to maps because they encode what’s known, and what’s unknown, at a point in time. “These abysses you know nothing about — that’s also written out in a map; they tell you, ‘terra incognita,’” she said.

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