|Bart (Jan) Bok
astrophysicist who discovered small, circular dark spots in nebulae
(now Bok's globules). His work broadened our understanding of the
formation of stars.
Bok, born in Hoorn, was educated at Leiden and Groningen in the Netherlands
and in the USA at Harvard, where he remained and became professor
1947. In 1957 he went to Australia as head of the Department of Astronomy
at the Australian National University as well as director of the Mount
Stromlo Observatory near Canberra. He ended his career as professor
at the University of Arizona 1966-1974.
Photographs had shown that the Milky Way was dotted with dark patches
or nebulae. Bok also discovered small, circular dark spots, which
were best observed against a bright background. Measurements of their
dimensions and opacity suggested that their masses were similar to
that of the Sun. Bok suggested that the globules were clouds of gas
in the process of condensation and that stars might be in the early
stages of formation there.