March 7 - Women’s History Month Profile: Jane Luu

One of the most remarkable discoveries in the past two decades, Jane Luu, a Vietnamese American astronomer, gazed up to the night sky with David Jewitt, another astronomer, and uncovered a faint glimpse of an object from the Kuiper belt in 1992. While Pluto was originally labeled a planet, Luu’s discovery critically challenged the definition of what it meant to be a planet and opened an extraordinary window to peer into the outer depths of the solar system. The Kuiper belt encompassed the region beyond Neptune filled with large chunks of ice and rock with the similar dwarf planet size and composition of Pluto that orbited the sun. Following her initial discovery, more than 1,300 objects have been identified from the belt. With an indefinite number of other objects in the Kuiper belt yet to be identified, from thousands to millions as hypothesized by other astronomers, her discovery will continue to inspire research for many years to come.