Eminent astrophysicist John Bahcall dies at 70

John Bahcall

Photo courtesy of the Institute for Advanced Study

John Bahcall, a renowned astrophysicist and faculty member of the Institute for Advanced Study who also was a visiting lecturer with rank of professor at Princeton, died Wednesday, Aug. 17, in New York City. He was 70.

Bahcall, the Richard Black Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study, had a long and prolific career in astronomy and astrophysics. His work spanned five decades and included the publication of more than 500 technical papers, books and popular articles. His distinguished career included numerous honors and awards, including the National Medal of Science.

In 1971, the same year Bahcall joined the institute as a permanent faculty member, he also accepted a continuing appointment as visiting lecturer at Princeton, where he served as an important link between the two institutions and fostered cooperation and coordination between their faculties.

"John Bahcall worked closely and effectively with the University for over three decades to develop the community of Princeton astronomers and astrophysicists, both at the University and the institute, into one of the strongest and most vigorous in the world," said Scott Tremaine, chair of Princeton's Department of Astrophysical Sciences.

"John strengthened our department at every level, from supervising undergraduate and graduate students in research projects to helping to identify and recruit senior faculty, and as a result I and my predecessors were in contact with him on an almost daily basis," Tremaine said. "John was also the astronomy community's most effective and prolific talent scout -- over half of the faculty members in our department were hired by him early in their careers, and I'm sure the same remarkable statistic is true of many of the best astronomy departments in the country."

Bahcall is survived by his wife Neta Bahcall, a professor of astrophysics at Princeton; sons Safi and Dan; daughter Orli; and brother Robert.

More information can be found on the institute's Web site.