Eleanor Margaret Peachey
August 12, 1919
|Known for||Astrophysics, Fellow of the Royal Society|
|Awards|| Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy (1959)|
National Medal of Science (1983)
Albert Einstein World Award of Science (1988)
Eleanor Margaret Burbidge, FRS (néePeachey; born August 12, 1919) is a British-born American astrophysicist, noted for original research and holding many administrative posts, including Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.
The Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory was the senior scientist responsible for the administration of the Royal Greenwich Observatory from 1972 until the institution's closure in 1998.
During her career, she served at the University of London Observatory, Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago, Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, the California Institute of Technology, and, from 1979 to 1988, was first director of the Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences at the University of California San Diego, where she has worked since 1962.
The University of London is a collegiate federal research university located in London, England. As of October 2018, the university contains 18 member institutions, central academic bodies and research institutes. The university has over 52,000 distance learning external students and 161,270 campus-based internal students, making it the largest university by number of students in the United Kingdom.
Yerkes Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin operated by the University of Chicago Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. It closed public operations in 2018. The observatory, which called itself "the birthplace of modern astrophysics", was founded in 1897 by astronomer George Ellery Hale and financed by businessman Charles T. Yerkes. It represented a shift in the thinking about observatories, from their being mere housing for telescopes and observers, to the early-20th-century concept of observation equipment integrated with laboratory space for physics and chemistry.
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. The university is composed of an undergraduate college, various graduate programs and interdisciplinary committees organized into five academic research divisions and seven professional schools. Beyond the arts and sciences, Chicago is also well known for its professional schools, which include the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Booth School of Business, the Law School, the School of Social Service Administration, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the Divinity School and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The university holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.
Burbidge started studying astronomy in 1936, at University College, London, was graduated in 1939, and received her Ph.D. at University College in 1943. She was turned down for a Carnegie Fellowship in 1945 because the fellowship would have meant that she would have had to observe at Mount Wilson observatory, which was reserved only for men at that time.
Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics, physics, and chemistry in an effort to explain the origin of those objects and phenomena and their evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets; the phenomena also includes supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, all phenomena that originate outside Earth's atmosphere are within the purview of astronomy. A related but distinct subject is physical cosmology, which is the study of the Universe as a whole.
1936 (MCMXXXVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1936th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 936th year of the 2nd millennium, the 36th year of the 20th century, and the 7th year of the 1930s decade.
Mount Wilson is a peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, located within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, California. With only minor topographical prominence the peak is not naturally noticeable from a distance, although it is easily identifiable due to the large number of antennas near its summit. It is a subsidiary peak of nearby San Gabriel Peak.
In 1950, she applied for a grant at the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, and went to the United States in 1951. Her research interests focused on chemical abundances in stars. She returned to England in 1953 and started research in collaboration with her husband Geoffrey Burbidge, William Alfred Fowler, and Fred Hoyle. Based on experimentation and observational data initiated by Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge, the team produced a hypothesis that all chemical elements might be synthesized in stars by nuclear reaction (known now as stellar nucleosynthesis). The resulting astrophysical theory, which was published in 1957, was called the B2FH theory after the participants who collaborated in the research (Burbidge, Burbidge, Fowler, Hoyle).This theory has been the basis for a substantial field of research in astrophysics.
Geoffrey Ronald Burbidge FRS was an English astronomy professor and theoretical astrophysicist, most recently at the University of California, San Diego. He was married to astrophysicist Margaret Burbidge.
William Alfred "Willy" Fowler was an American nuclear physicist, later astrophysicist, who, with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar won the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics. He is known for his theoretical and experimental research into nuclear reactions within stars and the energy elements produced in the process.
Sir Fred Hoyle FRS was a British astronomer who formulated the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. He also held controversial stances on other scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the "Big Bang" theory, a term coined by him on BBC radio, and his promotion of panspermia as the origin of life on Earth. He also wrote science fiction novels, short stories and radio plays, and co-authored twelve books with his son, Geoffrey Hoyle.
After ten years, in 1955, she finally gained access to the Mount Wilson Observatory, posing as her husband's assistant. When the management found out, they eventually agreed that she could stay, if she and her husband went to live in a separate cottage on the grounds, rather than staying in the dormitory that had been designed for men alone.
The Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO) is an astronomical observatory in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The MWO is located on Mount Wilson, a 1,740-metre (5,710-foot) peak in the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, northeast of Los Angeles.
In 1972 she became director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.This was the first time in 300 years that that directorship was not associated with the post of the Astronomer Royal, which instead, was awarded to radio astronomer Martin Ryle. She attributed this to continued sexism in the field. Burbidge left this post in 1974, fifteen months after accepting it, when controversy broke out over moving the Isaac Newton Telescope from the Observatory to a more useful location.
Astronomer Royal is a senior post in the Royal Households of the United Kingdom. There are two officers, the senior being the Astronomer Royal dating from 22 June 1675; the second is the Astronomer Royal for Scotland dating from 1834.
Sir Martin Ryle was an English radio astronomer who developed revolutionary radio telescope systems and used them for accurate location and imaging of weak radio sources. In 1946 Ryle and Derek Vonberg were the first people to publish interferometric astronomical measurements at radio wavelengths. With improved equipment, Ryle observed the most distant known galaxies in the universe at that time. He was the first Professor of Radio Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, and founding director of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory. He was Astronomer Royal from 1972 to 1982. Ryle and Antony Hewish shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974, the first Nobel prize awarded in recognition of astronomical research. In the 1970s, Ryle turned the greater part of his attention from astronomy to social and political issues which he considered to be more urgent.
The Isaac Newton Telescope or INT is a 2.54 m optical telescope run by the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands since 1984.
Experiences such as those turned Burbidge into one of the foremost and most influential personalities in the fight to end discrimination against women in astronomy. Consequently, in 1972 she turned down the Annie J. Cannon Award of the American Astronomical Society because it was awarded to women only: "It is high time that discrimination in favor of, as well as against, women in professional life be removed". Twelve years later the Society awarded her its highest honor, regardless of gender, the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship.At the University of California San Diego, she served as its first director of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Science.
In 1976, she became the first woman president of the American Astronomy society.In 1977, she became a United States citizen. In 1981 she was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); she also has served as vice-president and president of the American Astronomical Society.
In 2003, Burbidge was inducted into the Women's Museum of California Hall of Fame honoring her career and achievements.
On April 2, 1948, Margaret Peachey married Geoffrey Burbidge, also a theoretical astrophysicist, with whom she collaborated in one of the most significant astrophysical theories of the century (B2FH, described below). Their daughter, Sarah, was born in late 1956. Geoffrey Burbidge died in 2010.
After receiving her Ph.D. in 1943, she started to research galaxies by linking a spectrograph to telescopes. At the Yerkes Observatory in the USA her work involved studying B stars and galaxy structure.
In 1957, the B2FH group showed the famous result that all of the elements except the very lightest, are produced by nuclear processes inside stars. For this they received the Warner Prize in 1959. In her later research she was one of the first to measure the masses, compositions, and rotation curves of galaxies and was one of the pioneers in the spectroscopic study of quasars.
At UCSD she also helped develop the faint object spectrograph in 1990 for the Hubble Space Telescope. With this instrument, she and her team discovered that the galaxy M82 has a massive black hole at its center.Currently, she is a professor emeritus of physics at UCSD and continues to be active in research, including non-standard cosmologies such as intrinsic redshift. Burbidge has contributed to over 370 articles on astronomical research.
Named after her
The Margaret Burbidge Award for Best Experimental Research was an award established to recognize the best research in experimental physics by a graduate student presented in the annual meeting of APS Farwest section (previously called APS California section and later APS California-Nevada section). It also included a prize money of $500 for the first prize winner, which was later reduced to $250. The winners were selected by the APS Farwest section committee. A list of previous award winners can be found here.
Sandra Moore Faber is an astrophysicist known for her research on the evolution of galaxies. She is the University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and works at the Lick Observatory. She has made important discoveries linking the brightness of galaxies to the speed of stars within them and was the co-discoverer of the Faber–Jackson relation. Faber was also instrumental in designing the Keck telescopes in Hawaii.
The American Astronomical Society is an American society of professional astronomers and other interested individuals, headquartered in Washington, DC. The primary objective of the AAS is to promote the advancement of astronomy and closely related branches of science, while the secondary purpose includes enhancing astronomy education and providing a political voice for its members through lobbying and grassroots activities. Its current mission is to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the universe.
Helen Battles Sawyer Hogg, CC was an astronomer noted for pioneering research into globular clusters and variable stars. She was the first female president of several astronomical organizations and a notable woman of science in a time when many universities would not award scientific degrees to women. Her scientific advocacy and journalism included astronomy columns in the Toronto Star and the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. She was considered a "great scientist and a gracious person" over a career of sixty years.
The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is a learned society and charity that encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. Its headquarters are in Burlington House, on Piccadilly in London. The society has over 4,000 members, termed Fellows, most of them professional researchers or postgraduate students. Around a quarter of Fellows live outside the UK. Members of the public who have an interest in astronomy and geophysics but do not qualify as Fellows may become Friends of the RAS.
Harlow Shapley was a 20th-century American scientist, head of the Harvard College Observatory (1921–1952), and political activist during the latter New Deal and Fair Deal.
Vera Florence Cooper Rubin was an American astronomer who pioneered work on galaxy rotation rates. She uncovered the discrepancy between the predicted angular motion of galaxies and the observed motion, by studying galactic rotation curves. This phenomenon became known as the galaxy rotation problem, and was evidence of the existence of dark matter. Although initially met with skepticism, Rubin's results were confirmed over subsequent decades. Her legacy was described by The New York Times as "ushering in a Copernican-scale change" in cosmological theory.
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Jesse Leonard Greenstein was an American astronomer. His parents were Maurice G. and Leah Feingold.
Virginia Louise Trimble is an American astronomer specializing in the structure and evolution of stars and galaxies, and the history of astronomy. She has published more than 600 works in Astrophysics, and dozens of other works in the history of other sciences. She received the NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing in 1986, "for informing and enlightening the astronomical community by her numerous, comprehensive, scholarly, and literate reviews, which have elucidated many complex astrophysical questions," the Klopsteg Memorial Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers in 2001, and the George Van Biesbroeck Prize in 2010, for "many years of dedicated service to the national and international communities of astronomers, including her expert assessments of progress in all fields of astrophysics and her significant roles in supporting organizations, boards, committees and foundations in the cause of astronomy." She is famous for an annual review of astronomy and astrophysics research that was published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and often gives summary reviews at astrophysical conferences. In 2018, she was elected a Patron of the American Astronomical Society, for her many years of intellectual, organizational, and financial contributions to the society.
William Wilson Morgan was an American astronomer and astrophysicist. The principal theme in Dr. Morgan's work was stellar and galaxy classification. He is also known for helping prove the existence of spiral arms in our galaxy. In addition to his scientific achievements he served as a professor and as astronomy director for University of Chicago, and was the managing editor for George Hale's Astrophysical Journal.
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Alastair G. W. Cameron was a Canadian astrophysicist and space scientist who was an eminent staff member of the Astronomy department of Harvard University. He was one of the founders of the field of nuclear astrophysics, advanced the theory that the Moon was created by the giant impact of a Mars-sized object with the early Earth, and was an early adopter of computer technology in astrophysics.
Kenneth Charles Freeman is an Australian astronomer and astrophysicist who is currently Duffield Professor of Astronomy in the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Mount Stromlo Observatory of the Australian National University in Canberra. He was born in Perth, Australia in 1940, studied mathematics and physics at the University of Western Australia, and graduated with first class honours in applied mathematics in 1962. He then went to Cambridge University for postgraduate work in theoretical astrophysics with Leon Mestel and Donald Lynden-Bell, and completed his doctorate in 1965. Following a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Texas with Gérard de Vaucouleurs, and a research fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, he returned to Australia in 1967 as a Queen Elizabeth Fellow at Mount Stromlo. Apart from a year in the Kapteyn Institute in Groningen in 1976 and some occasional absences overseas, he has been at Mount Stromlo ever since.
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