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Bengt Strömgren

AKA Bengt Georg Daniel Strömgren

Born: 21-Jan-1908
Birthplace: Gothenburg, Sweden
Died: 4-Jul-1987
Location of death: Copenhagen, Denmark
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Astronomer, Physicist

Nationality: Denmark
Executive summary: Hydrogen stars

Sometimes called "The Great Dane" of scientists, astronomer Bengt Strömgren advanced mankind's understanding of what stars, and the huge space between them, are made of. He knew calculus by the age of eleven, and as a child worked at the Copenhagen Observatory, where his father was Director. He published his first scientific paper at 14, studied under Niels Bohr, and earned his doctorate at the age of 21. Using quantum calculations of the opacity of stellar interiors, he determined in 1932 that hydrogen is the main component of stellar matter, and helium the lesser -- then-startling findings which formed the underpinning of theories to explain the origin of solar energy. He made major advances in narrow-band photoelectric photometry, developing a four-color system now known as the Strömgren photometric system, and explained the envelope of ionized hydrogen, now called a Strömgren sphere, that surrounds certain kinds of young star.

Father: Elis Strömgren (astronomer, b. 1870, d. 1947)
Mother: Hedvig Lidforss Strömgren
Brother: Erik Strömgren
Wife: Sigrid Caja Hartz Strömgren (m. Mar-1931)
Daughter: Karin Elisabeth Strömgren Campbell
Daughter: Nina Strömgren Allen (microbiologist)
Son: Ole Edvard Lidforss Strömgren

    High School: Metropolitanskolen Gymnasium, Copenhagen, Denmark (1925)
    University: BS Physics, University of Copenhagen (1927)
    University: MS Physics, University of Copenhagen (1928)
    University: PhD Astronomy, University of Copenhagen (1929)
    Scholar: Copenhagen Observatory, University of Copenhagen (1927-36)
    Teacher: Astronomy, University of Copenhagen (1928-36)
    Scholar: Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago (1936-40)
    Teacher: Astronomy, University of Chicago (1936-40)
    Administrator: Director, Copenhagen Observatory, University of Copenhagen (1940-51)
    Professor: Astronomy, University of Copenhagen (1940-51)
    Administrator: McDonald Observatory, University of Texas at Austin (1951-57)

    Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal 1962
    Bruce Medal 1959
    Karl Schwarzschild Medal 1969
    Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics
    Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters 1967-87
    Institute for Advanced Study 1957-67
    International Astronomical Union President (1970-73)
    International Astronomical Union General Secretary (1948-52)
    Asteroid Namesake 1846 Bengt

Author of books:
Tables of Model Stellar Atmospheres (1944)


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