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Bengt Strömgren

1908-87. Bengt Strömgren was the child prodigy of Danish science, who even while no more than a boy published articles on classical astronomy, and was awarded a doctorate before reaching the age of 21.

He then turned to the new experiments in astrophysics aimed at applying quantum mechanics to the structure of the stars. This led to his epoch-making works on the atmospheres of the stars and their chemical constitutions and on hydrogen in the space between them.

In 1950 Strömgren left his professorial chair in Copenhagen to work for the next 17 years in the USA as Director of the Yerkes Observatory and later as researcher at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

His main interest was now to study the structure and development of our galaxy by using the ever-increasing amount of data concerning the movements, ages and chemical compositions of the stars.

Strömgren was not only a leading figure in astrophysics, but he also made important contributions to practical astronomy, including the calculation of mirrors and object lenses. In addition he was one of the first to attempt photoelectric registration of stars, a principle which is now used to perfection in the Carlsberg meridian circle on La Palma.

The joint European observatory in La Silla in the southern hemisphere benefited from his initiatives in its early years.


Olaf Pedersen, Gyldendal Leksikon

other great danes

The lives and achievements of all these Great Danes and many more are outlined in biographies of varying lengths on these pages. Read more about The Great Danes