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Thursday, July 10, 2014

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Paczynski earns astronomy award

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has awarded its annual Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal to Princeton astrophysicist Bodhan Paczynski .

The society recognized Paczynski for his "revolutionary" work in many areas of astronomy. Early in his career, Paczynski made important contributions to the understanding of the evolution of stars and the interactions of binary stars.

In the 1980s, Paczynski developed influential ideas regarding gravitational lensing, the effect that occurs when the gravity of massive objects bends passing light. Subsequent surveys based on his work have revealed important findings about the structure of our galaxy and continue to aid many other fields of research, including the search for planets outside our solar system.

The society also cited Paczynski for his work in understanding the origin of gamma ray bursts, which are enormous explosions that occur when massive stars collapse into black holes.

Paczynski, the Lyman Spitzer Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, received his Ph.D. from Warsaw University in Poland and came to Princeton in 1982.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is one of the world's oldest astronomy organizations. Previous winners of the Bruce Award include some of Princeton's most distinguished physicists: James Peebles, Lyman Spitzer, Martin Schwarzchild and Henry Russell.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601

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