German-born US astronomer whose
work has been crucial in establishing infrared astronomy. He has been
closely involved with the space agency NASA's interplanetary missions
and the design of new infrared telescopes.
Neugebauer was born in Göttingen, Germany, and studied at Cornell
University and at the California Institute of Technology, where he spent
his academic career from 1962. He became professor 1970 and director
of the Palomar Observatory 1981. His involvement with NASA began 1969
and included work on the infrared radiometers carried aboard the Mariner
missions to Mars. In 1976 he became the US principal scientist on the
Infrared Astronomical Satellite.
During the mid-1960s Neugebauer and his colleagues began to establish
the first infrared map of the sky. Some 20,000 new infrared sources
were detected and most of these did not coincide with known optical
sources. Among the brightest and strangest of these sources is in the
Orion nebula, and is known as the Becklin-Neugebauer object after its
discoverers. Carbon monoxide is blowing outwards from it at a high velocity.
The object is thought to be a very young star.