Our Beacon Forum

Meet This Hijabi Muslim Astrophysicist
By:Haleema Saadia, Bangkok
Date: Tuesday, 14 July 2020, 8:43 pm

'As Salaam Alaikum'.

Meet This Hijabi Muslim Astrophysicist !

Meet This Hijabi Muslim Astrophysicist

Because of her achievement, Mutlu-Pakdil was named in the ‘2018 Ten Outstanding

Young Persons of the World – Academic Leadership and Accomplishment’
Her work provides the first description of a double-ringed elliptical galaxy,
challenging current theories and assumptions about how the universe works and
how galaxies start and evolve.

Islam encourages its believers to explore the cosmos and its wonders which were created by Allah (SWT)

“ Do they not look at the sky above them, how We have
built it and adorned it, and there are no rifts in it.”

(Source~ 'Qur`an'~ Surat Qaf: 50~ A # 6).

In light of these Islamic teachings,
Muslim always excelled in the scientific fields
which explore the universe like astronomy.
Like her medieval Muslim counterpart astronomers,
the hijabi Turkish Muslim astrophysicist
Burçin Mutlu Pakdil shares her name with a rare double ring of stars at 359 million light-years away from us.
As a child, Mutlu-Pakdil’s passion for astronomy started by enjoying looking up at the stars in the night sky.

“Even though my family supported my decision and encouraged me to follow my passion, friends and relatives said that girls shouldn’t leave home to study,” she said.

Start of Star
The Muslim astrophysicist attended Beşiktaş Atatürk Anatolian High School and was the first generation of her family to attend college. She completed her undergraduate studies at Bilkent University, Ankara in 2009.
Mutlu-Pakdil then moved to Texas Tech University,
(in the US) for her graduate studies, gaining a Master’s degree in 2012.

In continuous progress and steady steps, she earned her Ph.D.. for “Testing supermassive black hole scaling relations using cosmological simulations
and optical/near-IR imaging data” from the University of Minnesota.

She was also appointed a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Arizona. Now, she works at the Steward Observatory looking at the structure and dynamics of astrophysical objects, including dwarf galaxies, galactic rings, and supermassive black holes.

During her doctoral studies, Mutlu-Pakdil discovered the galaxy PGC 1000714, which has been nicknamed
“Burçin’s galaxy”.
The discovered celestial structure is an extremely rare double ringed elliptical galaxy.

Because of her achievement, Mutlu-Pakdil was named in the ‘2018 Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World – Academic Leadership and Accomplishment’.

She also received the ‘2017 Ten Outstanding Young Persons, Turkey Scientific Leadership’ Award.
She also won the ‘2017 APS Woman Physicist of July’,
and the ‘Linda Larson Woman’ of 2017.

Why is this Important ?
There are about a trillion or so known galaxies in the universe, most of which are spirals like our home galaxy,
The Milky Way.
Dr. Mutlu-Pakdil’s work provides the first description of a double-ringed elliptical galaxy, challenging current theories and assumptions about how the universe works and how galaxies start and evolve.
When Mutlu-Pakdil and her team first took note of the little galaxy PGC 1000714, they mistook it as a rare
Hoag-type galaxy, and they were pretty excited by their discovery.
But when Mutlu-Pakdil studied the galaxy further,
she was astounded to find that the unusual galaxy had more secrets to reveal...!

“In between the blue outer ring and the red central core, we found a diffused red-colored inner ring surrounding the central body,” she says. “We were looking at a galaxy that had never been seen before.”

This celestial body is now providing astronomers with an intriguing mystery...!
As with Hoag-type galaxies, the red central core is older than the blue outer ring.
But in Burçin’s galaxy, the extra inner ring is the oldest of the lot, indicating that it formed first.
This celestial body is now providing astronomers with an intriguing mystery. As with Hoag-type galaxies, the red central core is older than the blue outer ring.
But in Burçin’s galaxy, the extra inner ring is the oldest of the lot, which means that it formed first.
A publisher also approached Mutlu-Pakdil to write a book about her experiences as an astrophysicist, and in 2018 she was selected as a TED fellow, one of just 20 invited change makers from around the world.
To this she said:
“The platform gave me a voice and a presence I had never imagined for myself.”
It surely is highly pleasing to know that such big discoveries are made by the members of Muslim 'Ummah' and how they are widely contributing. Not just this but their recognition worldwide is nothing but a matter of great pride.
May Allah (SWT) keep bestowing the 'Ummah' with such successes~'Aameen'.