Professor James Binney FRS has been awarded the 2023 Institute of Physics Isaac Newton Medal and Prize. The prestigious award recognises world-leading contributions to physics and has been awarded to Professor Binney for advancing the science of stellar dynamics and using strong physical intuition to widen and deepen our understanding of how galaxies are structured and formed.
Over decades, Professor Binney has introduced new ways of building model galaxies, and of understanding the orbits of stars within them. This has led to insights that have significantly influenced our understanding of how galaxies, both elliptical and spiral, are structured, formed and evolve. He pointed out the importance of velocity anisotropy for elliptical galaxies, and the role that central black holes play in limiting star formation. With collaborators, he showed that spiral structure is important for the chemical evolution of galaxies, and made the case that galaxies like our own grow by bleeding gas from the vast reservoir of intergalactic gas. His contributions were key to establishing that ours is a barred galaxy and his work led to major revisions of the parameters that describe the bar and the Sun's orbit around it. Professor Binney’s work has often been characterised by original ideas ahead of their time which later become widely accepted within the community.
'James’ career is extraordinary and he is a worthy recipient of this prestigious accolade,' comments Professor Ian Shipsey, Head of the Department of Physics. 'His work is respected around the world; it has shaped and steered the field.'