The Info List - Bengt Strömgren

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Bengt Georg Daniel Strömgren (21 January 1908 – 4 July 1987) was a Danish astronomer and astrophysicist.[1] Bengt Strömgren
Bengt Strömgren
was born in Gothenburg. His parents were Hedvig Strömgren (née Lidforss) and Elis Strömgren, who was professor of astronomy at the University of Copenhagen
and director of the University Observatory in Copenhagen. Bengt grew up in the professor's mansion surrounded with scientists, assistants, observers and guests. His father paced and promoted Bengt into a life with science, and Bengt's first paper was published already at the age of 14. He graduated from high school in 1925 and enrolled at the Copenhagen university. Only two years later, he graduated in astronomy and atomic physics, and during the following two years, he completed a doctoral degree, which was evaluated with the best marks in December 1929, when he was 21 years old. He gained a great deal of useful experience from his studies in theoretical physics at Niels Bohr's Institute close by, and he was at the right place at the right time. He soon found out that he intended to use the fresh theoretical framework of quantum physics in space, and investigate the applications of quantum mechanics in stars. Obviously, questions of nepotism were in play when he applied for an assistantship already in 1925, which he didn't get. But only one year later it was given to him anyway — he was the best, regardless of his employer being also his own father. After being appointed as lecturer at the university in 1932, Strömgren was invited to the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
in 1936 by Otto Struve. Going abroad for 18 months meant a lot to the young researcher, and when he went back to Denmark
and to the rising national socialism in Europe, he succeeded his father's professorship in 1940. During five years of isolation, under the German occupation of Denmark, he initiated the building of a new Danish Observatory, the Brorfelde Observatory. But after the Second World War, Bengt Strömgren became tired of lacking state funding for the project, and with a stagnant national economy, he felt that he had to leave Danish research, which he did in 1951. He went to the United States
United States
and became director of the Yerkes and McDonald Observatories, and stayed there for six years. In 1957, he was appointed the first professor of theoretical astrophysics at the Institute for Advanced Study
Institute for Advanced Study
in Princeton, where he got Albert Einstein's office. He stayed at Princeton with his family until 1967, when he went back to his homeland Denmark, and became the next to the last resident in a series of great Danish scientists of the Carlsberg Mansion and Honor, which had earlier been occupied by Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr
among others. In 1987, he died after a short period of illness. Bengt Strömgren
Bengt Strömgren
made momentous contributions to astrophysics. He found that the chemical composition of stars was very much different than previously assumed. In the late 1930s, he found the relative abundance of hydrogen to be nearly 70%, and helium to be about 27%. Just before the war, he discovered the so-called Strömgren Spheres — huge interstellar shells of ionized hydrogen around stars. And in the 1950s and 1960s, he pioneered photoelectric photometry with a novel four-color system, now called Strömgren photometric system. Apart from the Danish observatory of Brorfelde, Strömgren was active in the early organisation of the joint European observatory of ESO
in La Silla.


1 Honors 2 References 3 Sources 4 External links

Honors[edit] Awards

Bruce Medal (1959) Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
(1962) Henry Norris Russell Lectureship (1965) Janssen Medal from the French Academy of Sciences
French Academy of Sciences

Named after him

1846 Bengt Strömgren age Strömgren photometry Strömgren spheres Strömgren integral


1493 Sigrid, named after his wife


^ Spitzer Jr., Lyman (March 1988). "Bengt Strömgren". Physics
Today. 41 (3): 112–114. Bibcode:1988PhT....41c.112S. doi:10.1063/1.2811365. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. 


Svend Cedergreen Bech (ed.): Dansk Biografisk Leksikon (1979-84), 3rd ed. Put on-line by Den Store Danske in 2011. (in Danish) Bengt Strömgrens life among the stars, Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr
Institute Bruce Medalist Bengt Strömgren Autobiography in a celebrative commemorative published by University of Copenhagen
November 1930 (176-78) (Berlingske Tidende id. 17.9.1962). (in Danish) Knude, Jens, Bengt Stromgren's Work in Photometry, in A.G.D. Philip, A.R. Upgren and K.A. Janes, eds., "Precision Photometry: Astrophysics of the Galaxy", Proceedings of the conference held 3-4 October 1990 at Union College, Schenectady, NY (Davis Press, Schenectady, NY, 1991). Rebsdorf, Simon Olling (May 2003): Bengt Strömgren: growing up with astronomy, 1908 - 1932, Journal for the History of Astronomy
(ISSN 0021-8286), Vol. 34, Part 2, No. 115, pp. 171 - 199 (2003) Rebsdorf, Simon Olling (August 2004): The Father, the Son, and the Stars: Bengt Strömgren
Bengt Strömgren
and the History of Twentieth Century Astronomy in Denmark
and in the USA. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Aarhus. Rebsdorf, Simon Olling (February 2007): Bengt Strömgren: Interstellar Glow, Helium
Content, and Solar Life Supply, 1932–1940. Centaurus, Vol. 49, Issue 1, pages 56–79. Gustafsson, Bengt (2009): Bengt Strömgren’s Approach to the Galaxy, in J. Andersen, J. Bland-Hawthorn & B. Nordström, eds., "The Galaxy Disk in Cosmological Context." Proceedings IAU Symposium No. 254 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009), pp. 3-16.

External links[edit]

Bibliography of Bengt Strömgren Bruce Medalist Bengt Strömgren

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 88652458 LCCN: n89613712 ISNI: 0000 0001 0922 8050 GND: 124881912 SUDOC: 035193905 BNF: cb13476963j (da