Grigorii Abramovich Shain

Shain, Grigorii Abramovich


Born Apr. 7 (19), 1892, in Odessa; died Aug. 4, 1956, in Moscow; buried in the village of Goluboi Zaliv, in the Crimea. Soviet astrophysicist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1939).

Shain graduated from the University of Iur’ev (Dorpat) in 1919. From 1921 to 1925 he worked at the Pulkovo Observatory, where he conducted research in celestial mechanics, the motion of meteors, and the application of relativity theory to variable and binary stars and carried out statistical studies of binary stars in relation to the problem of the evolution of their components. Beginning in 1925, he worked at the Simeiz branch of the Pulkovo Observatory, where he supervised the mounting of what was then the largest reflector in the country, with a mirror diameter of 102 cm. From 1945 to 1952 he was director of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. Shain initiated the creation of the Soviet 2.6-m reflector that now bears his name.

Shain’s main works dealt with stellar spectroscopy and the physics of gaseous nebulas. With V. A. Al’bitskii (Albitzky), Shain determined the radial velocities of about 800 stars and discovered and calculated the orbits of new spectral binaries. In 1928, Shain, simultaneously and in part jointly with O. Struve, discovered the rapid rotation of a number of stars of the early spectral classes on the basis of the study of the form of the spectral lines. Shain conducted spectrophotometric studies of stars, especially cold stars and in particular long-period variables, such as Mira Ceti, in which he ascertained the coexistence of the hightemperature emission and absorption lines of cold stars; these studies enabled him to notice the similarity to phenomena of solar activity—chromospheric flares, which cause the ejection of hot matter from the interior and the appearance of emission lines in the spectra of these stars. In the spectra of carbon stars, Shain discovered a high content of the isotope C13. A number of Shain’s studies dealt with planetary nebulas, the integral spectrum of various parts of the Milky Way, and the spectrum of the rings of Saturn. His series of studies on the nature of gaseous nebulas and of their relation to the problem of the existence of interstellar magnetic fields is widely known. Shain discovered systematic deviations of the average direction of the interstellar polarization of the light of stars from the galactic equator, which indicated that the plane of the magnetic field was inclined 18°–20° to the plane of the galactic equator. With V. F. Gaze, Shain discovered more than 150 diffuse nebulas.

Shain was a member of the London Royal Astronomical Society, an honorary doctor of the University of Copenhagen, and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Shain received the State Prize of the USSR in 1950. He was awarded two Orders of Lenin and various medals.


“On the Rotation of Stars.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1929, vol. 89, no. 3. (With O. Struve.)
“The Radial Velocities of 343 Stars.” Ibid., 1932, vol. 92, no. 8. (With V. Albitzky.)
“Izotopy ugleroda v spektrakh zvezd klassa N.” Doklady AN SSSR: Novaiaseriia, 1942, vol. 35, no. 4. pp. 99–102.
Atlas diffuznykh gazovykh tumannostei. Moscow, 1952. (With V. F. Gaze.)
“Katalog emissionnykh tumannostei.” Izv. Krymskoi astrofizicheskoi observatorii, 1955, vol. 15.


Pikel’ner, S. B. “G. A. Shain (1892–1956).” In Istoriko-astronomicheskie issledovaniia, fasc. 3. Moscow, 1957. Pages 551–607. (Contains bibliography.)
G. A. Shain. Moscow, 1960. (AN SSSR: Materialy k bibliografii uchenykh SSSR—Ser. astronomii, no. 2.)


Full browser ?