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Kirshner, Robert P., 1949-
Oral history interview with Robert P. Kirshner, 2007 August 3.
In this interview Robert Kirshner discusses: Hubble's work with Cepheid variable stars in the 1920s, Zwicky began study of supernovae, taking spectra and photometric measurements, Baade continued this work through the 1960s at Mount Wilson Observatory, Olen Wilson also contributed. Supernovae as standard candles and as direct test of the expansion hypothesis, pointed out very early. Charles Cowall and Wall Sargeant continue Zwicky's work at Palomar, Cowall authoring an article on how supernovae may be an important way to measure cosmic distances and even cosmic deceleration. The cosmological constant as 'high-brow' thing, from Einstein. Alan Sandage's theoretical article of 1961 on exponential acceleration an influence later. Possibility of galaxies as standard candles. Classification of Type Ib supernovae, in 1984-1986, which are core collapses, not thermonuclear explosions like the Ia, cleaning out the Ia sample as well, done by Kirshner, Craig Wheeler, and David Branch. Rudolph Minkowski in the 1940s had already separated out the Type II, which had hydrogen lines and not as bright as Ia. Kirshner takes over Cowall's job at Palomar where he discovered supernovae using the 18-inch Schmidt telescope in 1971. In 1972 Cowall discovered the brightest supernova yet, and Kirshner studied that as well as invented a method for finding the distance to Type II supernovae to do cosmology, the so-called expanding photosphere method, both in his thesis. Robert Wagner, Ramish Ryan also contributed to that work on Type IIs. Kirshner's work in various aspects extragalactic astronomy, observational cosmology: galaxy surveys to measure galaxy custering and Omega_Matter, and the luminosity function of galaxies. Mark Phillips' discovery that bright supernovae had broader light curves than dim supernovae, named the 'delta m_15' method. Kirshner's notification, by Brian Marsden of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) circulars, of the discovery of a twenty-first magnitude supernova by a Danish team collaboration with Richard Ellis, Warrick Couch; thus beginning of doing cosmology with supernovae and other topics.
Robert Kirshner is Clowes professor of science at Harvard University and the author of The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos. His work covers various aspects of extragalactic astronomy and observational cosmology including galaxy surveys to measure galaxy clustering, the value of Omega_Matter, and the luminosity function of galaxies in addition to the co-discovery of the accelerating universe and dark energy.
Baade, Walter, 1893-1960.
Couch, Warrick J., 1954-
Ellis, Richard S. (Richard Salisbury), 1950-
Hubble, Edwin, 1889-1953
Kirshner, Robert P., 1949-
Marsden, Brian G.
Minkowski, Rudolph Leo Bernhard, 1895-1976.
Sandage, Allan
Sargent, Wallace Leslie William, 1935-2012
Wilson, Olin, C., 1909-1994
Zwicky, F. (Fritz), 1898-1974
International Astronomical Union
Mount Wilson Observatory
Palomar Observatory
Galaxies -- Clusters.
Spectrum analysis.
Interviews. aat
Oral histories. aat
Transcripts. aat
Pavlish, Ursula Rattay, interviewer.
American Institute of Physics. Niels Bohr Library & Archives. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA