Katherine Freese has been working to identify the dark matter and dark energy that permeate the universe — and to build a successful model for the early universe immediately after the Big Bang.
Katherine Freese works in theoretical cosmology, at the interface of astrophysics and particle physics. This field has seen remarkable successes in the past decade, yet many questions remain, including: What is the universe made of? What is the dark matter? What is the dark energy? What makes the universe accelerate, both now and during an early period of inflation? Freese’s research seeks to address these questions.
Freese is investigating the nature of the dark matter, the primary (unknown) constituent of the mass in galaxies. As part of this work, she recently discovered a new early phase of stellar evolution: Dark matter annihilation in the first stars gives rise to a heat source that overpowers all cooling mechanisms, preventing the further collapse of the stars. She is author of the 2014 book The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter.