TWO young astronomers have been awarded prestigious prizes.

Durham University academics Mark Swinbank and Baojiu Li were awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Fowler prize and Winton Capital award, respectively.

The honours are given to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to their discipline.

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Dr Swinbank, from Sedgefield, County Durham, was honoured for his research into the Universe’s distant past. He said he was delighted to receive the award.

Dr Li, from China, has been developing alternative explanations for the Universe’s accelerating expansion. He said he was deeply honoured at the award.

The prizes will be presented at the 2013 National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews, Scotland, in July.