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
(Astrophysicist)

Neil deGrasse Tyson
27
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
(Astronomer, Astrophysicist)

Carl Sagan
13
Birthdate: November 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
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 
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
(Astrophysicist Known for his 'Theoritical Studies of the Physical processes of importance to the Structure and Evolution of the Stars')

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
5
Birthdate: October 19, 1910
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lahore, Pakistan
Died: August 21, 1995

Remembered for his varied contribution to astrophysics, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar is perhaps best known for his work on the evolution of massive stars. Today known as Chandrasekhar limit, it contributed to final understanding of supernovas, neutron stars, and black holes. A prolific writer, he also did significant work on energy transfer by radiation in stellar atmospheres and convection on solar surface.

 4 
Walter Lewin
(Astronomer, University teacher, Astrophysicist, Physicist)

Walter Lewin
10
Birthdate: January 29, 1936
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Hague
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 5 
Sergei Korolev
(Scientist)

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

Sergei Korolev was a Soviet spacecraft designer and rocket engineer who played an important role during the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States of America in the 1950s and 1960s. He was largely responsible for developing the R-7 Rocket and launching Yuri Gagarin into space. Sergei Korolev also launched Belka, Strelka, and Laika into space.

 6 
J. Allen Hynek
(Astronomer, Ufologist)

J. Allen Hynek
6
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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 7 
Meghnad Saha
(Astrophysicist)

Meghnad Saha
3
Birthdate: October 6, 1893
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kaliakair Upazila, Bangladesh
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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 8 
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
(Astronomer, Astrophysicist)

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
4
Birthdate: May 10, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wendover, Buckinghamshire, England
Died: December 7, 1979

After losing her father at 4, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was raised singlehandedly by her mother. The incredibly talented Cecilia studied at Cambridge but failed to secure a degree because of her gender. She later joined Harvard and opposing prevalent beliefs, proposed that stars were mainly made of hydrogen and helium. 

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 9 
Dilhan Eryurt
(Astrophysicist)

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

 10 
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
(Astrophysicist who discovered the first radio pulsars and was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002 until 2004)

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
6
Birthdate: July 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lurgan, Northern Ireland

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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 11 
Karl Schwarzschild
(Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, University teacher, Mathematician)

Karl Schwarzschild
3
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.

 12 
Max Tegmark
(Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist)

Max Tegmark
5
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.

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 13 
Lawrence M. Krauss
(Astronomer, Physicist, Astrophysicist, Academic, Non-fiction writer, University teacher, Theoretical physicist)

Lawrence M. Krauss
5
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.

 14 
Martin Rees
(Cosmologist)

Martin Rees
5
Birthdate: June 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: York, United Kingdom

Born to educator parents, Martin Rees excelled in math since childhood. The cosmologist and astrophysicist later taught at Cambridge, Princeton, and Harvard. Known for his research on the big-bang theory, he also won awards such as the Templeton Prize and penned books such as Our Final Century.

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 15 
Amy Mainzer
(Astronomer)

Amy Mainzer
5
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 
Michael Foale
(Only NASA Astronaut to have Flown Extended Missions Aboard both Mir & The International Space Station)

Michael Foale
5
Birthdate: January 6, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Louth, Lincolnshire, England

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.

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 17 
Rainer Weiss
(Physicist)

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

Born to a doctor and psychoanalyst father and an actor mother in Berlin, physicist Rainer Weiss fled to the US along with his family, to avoid the Nazi terror. Associated with institutes such as MIT and Princeton, he invented the laser interferometric technique used in LIGO and even won a Nobel Prize later.

 18 
Brian Schmidt
(Vice-Chancellor)

Brian Schmidt
5
Birthdate: February 24, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Missoula, Montana, United States

Nobel Prize-winning astronomer Brian Schmidt is best known for discovering what is known as dark energy of the universe. Born in the US, the Harvard alumnus later moved to Australia for his work. He has taught at the Australian National University and is now the university’s vice chancellor.

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 19 
Dennis W. Sciama
(Physicist, Astrophysicist)

Dennis W. Sciama
5
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. 

 20 
Saul Perlmutter
(Astrophysicist)

Saul Perlmutter
5
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.

 21 
Jayant Narlikar
(Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Scientist, University teacher, Science fiction writer)

Jayant Narlikar
7
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.

 22 
Conrad Schlumberger
(Geophysicist)

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

Along with his brother, Marcel Schlumberger, Conrad Schlumberger formed one of the most well-known geophysicist duos of Germany. A pioneer in petroleum production, he co-established Schlumberger Ltd., one of the world’s largest oil-field service companies, with Marcel. Their technique of oil exploration offered a cheap alternative than the existing coring methods.

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 23 
Margherita Hack
(Astrophysicist)

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

 24 
Hubert Reeves
(Popularizer of science, Astrophysicist, Science writer)

Hubert Reeves
3
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.

 25 
John C. Mather
(Astrophysicist)

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

 26 
Jacob Bekenstein
(Physicist)

Jacob Bekenstein
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico
Died: August 16, 2015

Jacob Bekenstein was born to Polish Jew immigrant parents in Mexico. The Rothschild Prize-winning physicist later also gained both American and Israeli citizenships. He is best remembered for his discovery of thermodynamic properties in black holes. The Princeton alumnus and Technion professor was also quite a religious man.

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 27 

Robert Hofstadter
2
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.

 28 
Adam Riess
(Professor)

Adam Riess
2
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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 29 
Hannes Alfvén
(Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Engineer, University teacher)

Hannes Alfvén
2
Birthdate: May 30, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Norrköping
Died: April 2, 1995

Nobel Prize-winning Swedish electrical engineer Hannes Alfvén is best remembered for his research on plasma physics. He practically pioneered the field of magnetohydrodynamics, which deals with plasmas in magnetic fields. He also proposed the concept of plasma cosmology, challenging the big-bang model, and penned works such as Cosmic Plasma.

 30 
Thomas Gold
(Professor)

Thomas Gold
2
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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 31 
Lyman Spitzer
(Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Physicist, University teacher)

Lyman Spitzer
2
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. 

 32 
Riccardo Giacconi
(Astrophysicist)

Riccardo Giacconi
2
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.

 33 
Fang Lizhi
(Astrophysicist)

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

 34 
Margaret Burbidge
(Astrophysicist)

Margaret Burbidge
2
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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 35 
Robert H. Dicke
(Astronomer)

Robert H. Dicke
2
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.

 36 
Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr.
(Astrophysicist)

Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr.
2
Birthdate: March 29, 1941
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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 37 
Alexei Filippenko
(Known for Studies of Supernovae, Active Galaxies, Black Holes, Accelerating Expansion of the Universe)

Alexei Filippenko
2
Birthdate: July 25, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States

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.

 38 
William Alfred Fowler
(Nuclear Physicist and Astrophysicist)

William Alfred Fowler
2
Birthdate: August 9, 1911
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 14, 1995

 39 
Andrew E. Lange
(Astrophysicist)

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

 40 
Martin Schwarzschild
(Astrophysicist)

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

Martin Schwarzschild was a German-American astrophysicist best remembered for his work in the fields of stellar evolution and stellar structure, which paved the way to an improved understanding of differential solar rotation, pulsating stars, hydrogen shell sources, the ages of star clusters, and the helium flash. In 1997, Martin Schwarzschild was honored with the prestigious National Medal of Science. 

 41 
Rashid Sunyaev
(Astrophysicist)

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

 42 
Edward Bullard
(Geophysicist)

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

A pioneer of marine geophysics, geophysicist Edward Bullard was best known for his work on geodynamo and seismology and was a professor at the University of Cambridge. Initially a nuclear physicist, he switched to geophysics to find a lucrative job during the Great Depression. He was eventually knighted for his achievements.

 43 
Edward Arthur Milne
(Astrophysicist)

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

British astrophysicist and cosmologist Edward Arthur Milne was a brilliant student and a Cambridge scholar. Remembered for his work on kinematic relativity, he introduced the Milne model, too. He applied the Saha equation in his studies on the spectral lines of stars and also lectured on Christianity.

 44 
John N. Bahcall
(Astrophysicist)

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

 45 

Geoffrey Burbidge
3
Birthdate: September 24, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chipping Norton, England
Died: January 26, 2010

English astrophysicist Geoffrey Burbidge is remembered for his pioneering work on the elements in stars and was one of the authors of the B2FH paper. Initially aspiring to study history, he switched to physics later. A Fellow of The Royal Society, he also won many awards with his wife, fellow astrophysicist Margaret Burbidge.

 46 
Dirk Frimout
(Astrophysicist)

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

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

 48 
Charles Greeley Abbot
(Astrophysicist)

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

 49 
Edwin Ernest Salpeter
(Astrophysicist)

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

 50 

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