|Photo ca. 1956, courtesy Prof. Unsöld|
|20 April 1905||1956 Bruce Medalist||23 September 1995|
Albrecht Unsöld studied quantum mechanics under Arnold Sommerfeld at the University of Munich and began working on stellar atmospheres in 1927. He spent nearly his entire career at the University of Kiel, where he was appointed professor in 1932. By intensive study of the processes influencing the formation and shape of spectral lines — the effects of abundances, radiation damping, Doppler shifts, electric fields, and collisions — he greatly improved the methods of determining physical conditions in stellar atmospheres. Unsöld's analysis of the spectrum of the B0 star Tau Scorpii, obtained on a 1939 visit to Yerkes and McDonald Observatories, provided the first detailed analysis of a star other than the sun. From it he determined the physics and composition of the star’s atmosphere. He wrote an influential book on stellar atmospheres, edited the Zeitschrift für Astrophysik until it was merged with other European journals into Astronomy and Astrophysics, and educated many important astronomers.
Wilson, O.C., PASP 68, 89-91 (1956).
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1957, presented by H. Jeffreys, MNRAS 117, 344-46 (1957)
Astronomische Gesellschaft, President, 1947-48.
Weidemann, Volker, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel [in German]
Modern Scientists and Engineers (McGraw-Hill, NY, 1980).
Baschek, Bodo, Mitteilungen der Astronomische Gesellschaft 79, 11-15, (1996) [in German].
Seaton, Mike, Astronomy & Geophysics 38, 1, 37-38 (1997).
Wiedemann, Volker, PASP 108, 553-55 (1996).
AIP Center for History of Physics
Minor planet #2842 Unsöld
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