English astronomer and theoretical physicist who focused on stellar
evolution and composition, as well as the nature of the Solar System.
Lyttleton was born near Birmingham and studied at Cambridge and at Princeton
in the USA. He returned to Cambridge in 1937, and together with Fred
Hoyle he established a research school there in theoretical astronomy.
He held a number of scientific posts, including a position at the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in California 1960.
In 1939 Lyttleton and Hoyle demonstrated the presence of interstellar
hydrogen on a large scale, at a time when most astronomers believed
space to be devoid of interstellar gas. In the early 1940s they applied
the new advances in nuclear physics to the problem of energy generation
Lyttleton published 1953 a monograph on the stability of rotating liquid
masses, and later postulated that the Earth's liquid core was produced
by a phase change resulting from the combined effects of intense pressure
and temperature. He also stressed the hydrodynamic significance of the
liquid core in the processes of precession and nutation.
In 1959 with cosmologist Hermann Bondi he proposed the electrostatic
theory of the expanding universe.