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Martin Schwarzschild

Martin Schwarzschild

German astronomer
Martin Schwarzschild
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German astronomer
A.K.A. Martin Schwarzchild
Was Astronomer Physicist Scientist Astrophysicist Professor Educator
From Germany United States of America
Type Academia Science
Gender male
Birth 31 May 1912, Potsdam, Germany
Death 10 April 1997, Langhorne, USA (aged 84 years)
Star sign Gemini
Father: Karl Schwarzschild
The details (from wikipedia)


Martin Schwarzschild (May 31, 1912 – April 10, 1997) was a German-American astrophysicist.


Schwarzschild was born in Potsdam into a distinguished German Jewish academic family. His father was the physicist Karl Schwarzschild and his uncle the astrophysicist Robert Emden. In line with a request in his father's will, his family moved to Göttingen in 1916. Schwarzschild studied at the University of Göttingen and took his doctoral examination in December 1936. He left Germany in 1936 for Norway and then the United States. Schwarzschild served in the US army intelligence. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star for his wartime service. After returning to the US, he married fellow astronomer Barbara Cherry. In 1947, Martin Schwarzschild joined his lifelong friend, Lyman Spitzer at Princeton University. Spitzer died 10 days before Schwarzschild.

Schwarzschild's work in the fields of stellar structure and stellar evolution led to improved understanding of pulsating stars, differential solar rotation, post-main sequence evolutionary tracks on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (including how stars become red giants), hydrogen shell sources, the helium flash, and the ages of star clusters. With Fred Hoyle, he computed some of the first stellar models to correctly ascend the red giant branch by steadily burning hydrogen in a shell around the core. He and Härm were the first to compute stellar models going through thermal pulses on the asymptotic giant branch and later showed that these models develop convective zones between the helium- and hydrogen-burning shells, which can bring nuclear ashes to the visible surface. Schwarzschild's 1958 book Structure and Evolution of the Stars taught a generation of astrophysicists how to apply electronic computers to the computation of stellar models.

In the 1950s and ’60s he headed the Stratoscope projects, which took instrumented balloons to unprecedented heights. The first Stratoscope produced high resolution images of solar granules and sunspots, confirming the existence of convection in the solar atmosphere, and the second obtained infrared spectra of planets, red giant stars, and the nuclei of galaxies. In his later years he made significant contributions toward understanding the dynamics of elliptical galaxies. Schwarzschild was renowned as a teacher and held major leadership positions in several scientific societies.

In the 1980s, Schwarzschild applied his numerical skills to building models for triaxial galaxies.

Dr. Schwarzschild was the Eugene Higgins Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at Princeton University, where he spent most of his professional life.



  • Karl Schwarzschild Medal (1959)
  • Henry Norris Russell Lectureship (1960)
  • Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences (1960)
  • Eddington Medal (1963)
  • Bruce Medal (1965)
  • Rittenhouse Medal (1966)
  • Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1969)
  • Brouwer Award (1992)
  • Balzan Prize (1994, with Fred Hoyle)
  • National Medal of Science (1997)

Named after him

  • Asteroid 4463 Marschwarzschild
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 08 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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