The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) announced today that Gerry Neugebauer has been awarded the 2010 Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal for lifetime achievement in astronomy.
Neugebauer received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Cornell University in 1954, and his Ph.D. in physics from Caltech in 1960. He joined the Caltech faculty in 1962, became Howard Hughes Professor in 1985, and became chair of the Division of Physics, Math and Astronomy in 1988. His career has included serving as the director of the Palomar Observatory from 1980 to 1994. He is presently the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Caltech, and a member of the adjunct faculty of the University of Arizona’s Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, where he currently resides.
Neugebauer is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of infrared astronomy. In the 1960s, he collaborated with Eric Becklin in the discovery of the Becklin-Neugebauer Object — a massive “protostar” whose detection led to the study of the formation of stars out of interstellar material — and in the first infrared mapping of the galactic center. With Robert B. Leighton, Neugebauer conducted the first infrared survey of the sky published in 1969, cataloging thousands of sources at a wavelength of 2 microns and triggering great advances in infrared astronomy.
Neugebauer was the leader of the international science team for the Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) that mapped the sky in four different wavelengths in 1983 and revolutionized the infrared study of the universe. Neugebauer and his collaborators have continued to observe and define the emission processes producing infrared radiation in quasars and other active galactic nuclei.
One of Neugebauer’s greatest and lasting legacies may be the host of young scientists he trained and mentored over a career of more than 40 years at Caltech — many of who are now leaders in numerous areas of infrared astronomical research.
Awarded in most years since 1898, the Bruce Gold Medal is recognized as one of astronomy’s most prestigious awards. Previous winners include such influential astronomers as Walter Baade, Edwin Hubble, George Ellery Hale, and Fred Hoyle.
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