Zwicky, Fritz

Zwicky, Fritz

(tsvĭk`ē), 1898–1974, Swiss-American astrophysicist, b. Bulgaria, educated at Zürich. Associated with the California Institute of Technology after his arrival in the United States in 1925, he became professor of astrophysics in 1942 and emeritus professor in 1972. He discovered more than 120 supernovassupernova,
a massive star in the latter stages of stellar evolution that suddenly contracts and then explodes, increasing its energy output as much as a billionfold. Supernovas are the principal distributors of heavy elements throughout the universe; all elements heavier than
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 and with Rudolf Minkowski and Walter BaadeBaade, Walter
, 1893–1960, German-born American astronomer. From 1919 to 1931 he was on the staff of the Hamburg observatory; from 1931 to 1958, at the Mt. Wilson observatory.
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 he developed several models to explain their occurrence. Decades before the observational discovery of neutron starsneutron star,
extremely small, extremely dense star, with as much as double the sun's mass but only a few miles in radius, in the final stage of stellar evolution. Astronomers Baade and Zwicky predicted the existence of neutron stars in 1933.
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, Zwicky suggested that the Crab Nebula in Taurus originated in a supernova. He is also known for his study of jet propulsion, cosmic rays, crystals, and slow electrons and ions in gases.
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