The Bruce Medalists


  portrait Photo courtesy Prof. Herbig and University of California, Santa Cruz
George Howard Herbig
2 January 1920 1980 Bruce Medalist 12 October 2013

George Herbig earned his bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 1943 and his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley in 1948. His thesis research on T Tauri stars was performed at the Lick Observatory. He then joined the staff of Lick and lived on Mt. Hamilton until the observatory became part of the University of California, Santa Cruz in the late 1960s. He designed the coudé spectrograph for the Shane 3-m telescope at Lick. In 1987 he moved to the University of Hawaii, where he investigated diffuse interstellar bands found in the spectra of stars and very faint young stars in Galactic clusters. Herbig was known for his spectroscopic studies of young stars, star formation, and the interstellar medium. He found and investigated many H-alpha emission objects, T Tauri stars, and peculiar stars. He and Guillermo Haro independently discovered the Herbig-Haro objects, gas clouds associated with young stars. Herbig showed that lithium abundance is correlated with age in young stars, and he investigated rotation rates of stars of different spectral class. He continued research until the end of his life, publishing two articles at age ninety-two. His doctoral students included noted astronomers Robert P. Kraft, Elizabeth Roemer, George Preston, Leonard Kuhi, Ann Boesgaard, Beverly Lynds, Robert Zappala, William Alschuler, N. Kameswara Rao, Douglas Duncan, and David Soderblom.

Personal Web Page
At the University of Hawaii

Presentation of Bruce medal
Mercury 9, 159 (1980).

Other awards
American Astronomical Society, Helen B. Warner Prize, 1955; Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 1975.

Biographical materials
Nakaso, Dan, Honolulu Advertiser, 16 August 2009
Tenn, Joseph S., Biographical Encylopedia of Astronomers, 2nd ed., in press (Springer).

Institute of Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa
W.M. Keck Observatory, 14 October 2013.

AIP Center for History of Physics
University of Chicago Archival Photographic Files
Institute of Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa, photo by Karen Teramura

Named after him
Minor Planet #11754 Herbig
Herbig-Haro objects (with Guillermo Haro)
Herbig Ae and Be (HAEBE) stars

More references

The Bruce Medalists

Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to