who developed influential theories about the formation of stars and
Spitzer was born in Toledo, Ohio, and studied at Yale, with a year in
the UK at Cambridge. He stayed at Yale until 1947, when he moved to
Princeton as head of the Astronomy Department.
Spitzer proposed that only a magnetic field could contain gases at temperatures
as high as 100 million degrees, by which point hydrogen gas fuses to
form helium, and he devised a figure-of-eight design to describe this
field. His model was important to later attempts to bring about the
controlled fusion of hydrogen.
Spitzer criticized the theory that our planetary system is the result
of a gas cloud or gaseous filaments breaking off from the Sun to become
planetary fragments. He showed that a gas would be dispersed into interstellar
space long before it had cooled sufficiently to condense into planets.