The Netherlands

Jan Hendrik Oort

1984 Balzan Prize for Astrophysics

For having exerted a profound influence on 20th century astronomy. Jan Hendrik Oort is acknowledged all over the world as a leader in this field because of his pioneering investigations on galactic rotation, on the distribution of hydrogen in the galaxies, and on gaseous clouds in intergalactic space; he has played a leading role in introducing and using radioastronomy as a tool in studying cosmic physics.

Jan Hendrik Oort was born at Franeker, the Netherlands, on April 28, 1900 (†1992); he is a Dutch citizen;
assistant at the Astronomical Laboratory, Groningen, in 1921;
research assistant at Yale University Observatory from 1922 to 1924;
astronomer at Leiden Observatory in 1924;
professor of Astronomy since 1935, then director of the Observatory University of Leiden and President of the Netherlands Radio-astronomy Foundation from 1945 to 1970;
general secretary from 1935 to 1948 and president of the International Astronomical Union from 1958 to 1961;
since 1953 foreign member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and of many other learned societies;
Ph. D. «honoris causa » of the Universities of Copenhagen, Glasgow, Oxford, Louvain, Harvard, Brussels, Cambridge, Bordeaux and of the Australian National University.

He has published about 300 papers. Some of his major works are:
— The interstellar hydrogen line at 1.420 Mc/sec and an estimate of galactic rotation (avec C.A. Muller), Nature 168 (1951);
— Problems of galactic structure, Astrophys. J. 116 (1952);
— The galactic system as a spiral nebula (avec F.J. Kerr et O. Westerhout), Mon. Not. Roy. Astr. Soc. 118 (1958);
— The position of the galactic centre (avec G.W. Rougoor), Mon. Not. Roy. Astr. Soc. 121 (1960);
— The formation of galaxies and the origin of the high-velocity hydrogen. Astr. Astrophys. 7, pp. 381-404 (1970);
— The Nature of the Largest Structures in the Universe, Astrophysical Cosmology, Eds. HA. Brück, G.V. Coyne & MS. Longair, pubbl. Pontificia Academia Scientiarum, Vatican City, pp. 145-62 (1982);
— The Galactic Nucleus, Invited Report, I.A.U. Symposium No. 106 «The Milky Way Galaxy» Groningen (1983).

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