Fritz Zwicky
(1898-1974)

 

Swiss astronomer who predicted the existence of neutron stars 1934. He discovered 18 supernovae and determined that cosmic rays originate in them.
Zwicky observed that most galaxies occur in clusters, each of which contains several thousand galaxies. He made spectroscopic studies of the Virgo and Coma Berenices clusters and calculated that the distribution of galaxies in the Coma Berenices cluster was statistically similar to the distribution of molecules in a gas when its temperature is at equilibrium. Beginning 1936, he compiled a catalogue of galaxies and galaxy clusters in which he listed 10,000 clusters.
Zwicky was born in Varna, Bulgaria, but his parents were Swiss and he retained his Swiss nationality throughout his life. He studied at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, then moved to the USA 1925 to join the California Institute of Technology, where he spent his whole career.
Zwicky was among the first to suggest that there is a relationship between supernovae and neutron stars. He suggested in the early 1930s that the outer layers of a star that explodes as a supernova leave a core that collapses upon itself as a result of gravitational forces.


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