Astrophysicists

An astrophysicist is a scientist who researches the principles of light, motion, and natural forces as they pertain to the universe at large. Astrophysicists engage in theoretical physics studies in an attempt to learn more about the underlying properties of the cosmos. Many specialize in studying a particular phenomenon or theory, such as black holes, the development and extinction of stars, relativity and motion, or the origin of the universe. Astrophysics is a branch of space science that applies the laws of physics and chemistry to explain the birth, life and death of stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae and other objects in the universe. Astrophysicists incorporate their extensive knowledge of mathematical and physical properties with observable characteristics to form modern explanations. So much is unknown or uncertain about the universe that it is not uncommon for them to spend the majority of their career investigating a single astronomical circumstance. Astrophysicists study how the universe works, explore how it began and evolved, and search for life on planets around other stars. In simple words, they seek to understand the universe and our place in it. This section provides you information about the life and works of famous astrophysicists.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson.
13
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: October 5, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States

Public Welfare Medal-winning astrophysicist and academic Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted shows such as NOVA ScienceNow, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and Star Talk. He is the director of Hayden Planetarium and contributed to the dismissal of Pluto’s status as the ninth planet. He has also written a monthly column as "Merlin.”

 2 Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan.
11
Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Writer
Birthdate: November 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died: December 20, 1996
Pulitzer- and Emmy-winning astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan was best known for co-writing the TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. His novel Contact was adapted into a film. He was known for his extensive research on extra-terrestrial life, had taught at major universities, and written countless papers and science books.

 3 Walter Lewin

Walter Lewin.
10
Famous As: Astronomer, University teacher, Astrophysicist, Physicist
Birthdate: January 29, 1936
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Hague

 4 J. Allen Hynek

J. Allen Hynek.
4
Famous As: Astronomer, Ufologist
Birthdate: May 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: April 27, 1986

When the American government, baffled by unexplained sightings of flying objects, assigned J. Allen Hynek the task of solving the mystery, Hynek was sceptical. However, he later became the first person to scientifically analyze such sightings. He also established the "Close Encounter" classification system to study UFOs.

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 5 Sergei Korolev

Sergei Korolev.
4
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: January 1, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zhytomyr, Ukraine
Died: January 14, 1966

 6 Jayant Narlikar

Jayant Narlikar
5
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Scientist, University teacher, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: July 19, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kolhapur

Born to a math professor father and a Sanskrit scholar mother, Astrophysicist and IUCAA professor Jayant Narlikar grew up to collaborate with Sir Fred Hoyle, leading to the conformal gravity theory, also known as the Hoyle-Narlikar theory. He has won the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan and penned sci-fi novels, too.

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 7 Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
6
Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist
Birthdate: July 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Belfast

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars. She graduated from the University of Glasgow and pursued an academic career. In 2018, she received the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her discovery of radio pulsars. She donated the three million dollars she received as prize money.  

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 8 Meghnad Saha

Meghnad Saha.
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 6, 1893
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Shaoratoli, Dhaka, Bangladesh, British India
Died: February 16, 1956

Indian astrophysicist Meghnad Saha is best remembered for developing the thermal ionization equation. A grocer’s son, he relied on merit alone to excel in academics and eventually became a professor at the universities of Allahabad and Calcutta. He was also a Lok Sabha MP and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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 9 Dilhan Eryurt

Dilhan Eryurt
6
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: November 29, 1926
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: İzmir, Turkey
Died: September 13, 2012

 10 Karl Schwarzschild

Karl Schwarzschild
3
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, University teacher, Mathematician
Birthdate: October 9, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: May 11, 1916

Karl Schwarzschild was a German astronomer and physicist. He is remembered for his contributions to the general theory of relativity; Schwarzschild came up with the first exact solution to the Albert Einstein field equations. He also contributed immensely to the theory of black holes.

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 11 Max Tegmark

Max Tegmark
5
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist
Birthdate: May 5, 1967
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sweden

Born to math professor Harold S. Shapiro, Max Tegmark grew up to co-establish the Future of Life Institute, with funding from Elon Musk. The MIT professor is a specialist in cosmology, physics, and machine learning and had also penned a book on artificial intelligence, titled Life 3.0.

 12 Martin Rees

Martin Rees
5
Famous As: Cosmologist
Birthdate: June 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: York, United Kingdom
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 13 Rainer Weiss

Rainer Weiss
5
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: September 29, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

 14 Lawrence M. Krauss

Lawrence M. Krauss
5
Famous As: Astronomer, Physicist, Astrophysicist, Academic, Non-fiction writer, University teacher, Theoretical physicist
Birthdate: May 27, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City

American-Canadian theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss has taught at institutes such as ASU and Yale and also penned several bestselling books. Known for his research on dark energy and zero-energy states, he was later accused of sexual misconduct and thus lost the directorship of the ASU’s Origins Project.

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 15 Amy Mainzer

Amy Mainzer
5
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: January 2, 1974
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mansfield, Ohio, United States

Astronomer Amy Mainzer has been associated with NASA's NEOWISE mission and specializes in asteroid detection. The Stanford and Caltech alumna now teaches at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona and has also appeared on the History Channel series The Universe and in several documentaries.

 16 Brian Schmidt

Brian Schmidt
5
Famous As: Vice-Chancellor
Birthdate: February 24, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Missoula, Montana, United States

 17 Michael Foale

Michael Foale
3
Famous As: Astronaut, Astrophysicist, Physicist
Birthdate: January 6, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Louth

The first British astronaut to perform a space-walk, Michael Foale was also the only NASA astronaut to be on missions aboard both the Mir and the International Space Station. Born to a Royal Air Force pilot father, he was well-traveled. He was the only survivor of a car accident in Yugoslavia.

 18 Dennis W. Sciama

Dennis W. Sciama
5
Famous As: Physicist, Astrophysicist
Birthdate: November 18, 1926
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Manchester
Died: December 18, 1999

Dennis W. Sciama was a British physicist credited to have played a major role in the development of British physics following World War II. He is considered a co-father of modern cosmology and supervised the doctoral works of many famous cosmologists, including Martin Rees and Stephen Hawking.  He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1983. 

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 19 Saul Perlmutter

Saul Perlmutter
5
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: September 22, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Statistical Area

Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter has been associated with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. Born to a chemical engineering professor, Perlmutter grew up to co-discover the accelerating expansion of the Universe and later introduced innovative Berkeley courses such as Physics & Music.

 20 Margherita Hack

Margherita Hack
5
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: June 12, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: June 29, 2013

 21 Hubert Reeves

Hubert Reeves
3
Famous As: Popularizer of science, Astrophysicist, Science writer
Birthdate: July 13, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Montreal

Known as “The Poet of the Stars,” Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves has been a NASA advisor. His research covers neutrinos and thermonuclear reactions in stars. Having penned numerous science and astronomy books such as Soleil, he is known as a popularizer of science and has an asteroid named after him.

 22 Jacob Bekenstein

Jacob Bekenstein
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 1, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico
Died: August 16, 2015
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 23 Conrad Schlumberger

Conrad Schlumberger
5
Famous As: Geophysicist
Birthdate: October 2, 1878
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Guebwiller, France
Died: May 9, 1936

 24 Robert Hofstadter

Robert Hofstadter.
2
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 5, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: November 17, 1990

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert Hofstadter is remembered for his path-breaking research on the structures of the particles of the atomic nuclei, such as protons and neutrons. The Princeton alumnus initially worked with the National Bureau of Standards, where he developed the proximity fuse, and then taught at Princeton and Stanford.

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 25 John C. Mather

John C. Mather
4
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: August 7, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Roanoke, Virginia, United States

 26 Adam Riess

Adam Riess
2
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: December 16, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Adam Guy Riess is an American astrophysicist, known for his work on Type Ia supernovae. Teaming up with Saul Perlmutter and Brian Schmidt, he started working on the supernovae, using it as cosmological probe, eventually discovering that the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating. He received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work.

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 27 Hannes Alfvén

Hannes Alfvén
2
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Engineer, University teacher
Birthdate: May 30, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Norrköping
Died: April 2, 1995

 28 Thomas Gold

Thomas Gold
2
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: May 22, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: June 22, 2004

Austrian-born astrophysicist Thomas Gold is best-remembered for proposing the steady state theory of the universe and for his deep gas hypothesis through which he re-defined the abiogenic hypothesis and made it popular in the West. He served as professor of astronomy at Cornell University and remained a member of National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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 29 Riccardo Giacconi

Riccardo Giacconi
2
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: October 6, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Genoa
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Riccardo Giacconi was a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy. Born in Italy, he later went to the U.S. to pursue his research as a Fulbright scholar. He was the man behind the launch of the Einstein Observatory and the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

 30 Lyman Spitzer

Lyman Spitzer
2
Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Physicist, University teacher
Birthdate: June 26, 1914
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toledo
Died: March 31, 1997

Lyman Spitzer was an American theoretical physicist, mountaineer, and astronomer. He was known for his research into star formation and plasma physics. He is credited with the invention of the stellarator plasma device and he was the one who first conceived the idea of telescopes operating in outer space. He was a founding member of the World Cultural Council. 

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 31 Fang Lizhi

Fang Lizhi
2
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: February 12, 1936
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beijing, China
Died: April 6, 2012

 32 Margaret Burbidge

Margaret Burbidge
2
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: August 12, 1919
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Davenport,England

Margaret Burbidge was a British-American observational astronomer and astrophysicist. She was the first author of the influential B2FH paper and one of the founders of stellar nucleosynthesis. She held several leadership and administrative posts and was well known for her work opposing discrimination against women in astronomy. In 1988, she was awarded the Albert Einstein World Award of Science. 

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 33 Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr.

Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr..
2
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
Birthdate: March 29, 1941
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

 34 Robert H. Dicke

Robert H. Dicke
2
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: May 6, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: March 4, 1997

American astronomer and Princeton University physicist Robert H. Dicke is best known for making significant contributions in the fields of atomic physics, astrophysics, gravity and cosmology. He designed and introduced the Dicke radiometer, the most common form of microwave radiometer; developed the Brans–Dicke theory of gravitation with Carl H. Brans; and is generally believed to have invented the lock-in amplifier.

 35 Alexei Filippenko

Alexei Filippenko
2
Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist, University teacher
Birthdate: July 25, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oakland

Renowned astrophysicist Alexei Filippenko, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, is primarily focused on supernovae and galaxies. Apart from writing 900 research papers, he has also penned a bestselling book and appeared on programs such as The Universe. He loves tennis and often travels to view solar eclipses.

 36 Andrew E. Lange

Andrew E. Lange
2
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: July 23, 1957
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Urbana, Illinois, United States
Died: January 22, 2010

 37 William Alfred Fowler

William Alfred Fowler.
2
Famous As: Nuclear Physicist and Astrophysicist
Birthdate: August 9, 1911
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pittsburgh
Died: March 14, 1995

 38 Martin Schwarzschild

Martin Schwarzschild
2
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: May 31, 1912
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
Died: April 10, 1997

 39 Rashid Sunyaev

Rashid Sunyaev
1
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: March 1, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tashkent, Uzbekistan

 40 Nikolay Aleksandrovich Kozyrev

Nikolay Aleksandrovich Kozyrev
1
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 2, 1908
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: February 27, 1983

 41 Edward Arthur Milne

Edward Arthur Milne.
1
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: February 14, 1896
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kingston upon Hull
Died: September 21, 1950

 42 John N. Bahcall

John N. Bahcall
3
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: December 30, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Died: August 17, 2005

 43 Dirk Frimout

Dirk Frimout
1
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: March 21, 1941
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Poperinge, Belgium

 44 Geoffrey Burbidge

Geoffrey Burbidge
1
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: September 24, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chipping Norton, England
Died: January 26, 2010

 45 Charles Greeley Abbot

Charles Greeley Abbot.
1
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: May 31, 1872
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wilton
Died: December 17, 1973

 46 Edwin Ernest Salpeter

Edwin Ernest Salpeter
1
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: December 3, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: November 26, 2008

 47 Lewis Morris Rutherfurd

Lewis Morris Rutherfurd
1
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: November 25, 1816
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Morrisania, New York, United States
Died: May 30, 1892

 48 Viktor Hambardzumyan

Viktor Hambardzumyan
1
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 18, 1908
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tbilisi, Georgia
Died: August 12, 1996

 49 Ken Freeman

Ken Freeman
1
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: August 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Perth, Australia

 50 Edward Bullard

Edward Bullard
1
Famous As: Geophysicist
Birthdate: September 21, 1907
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Norwich, England
Died: April 3, 1980
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