The Bruce Medalists


  Photo courtesy Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, courtesy Prof. R. Kippenhahn
Ludwig Franz Benedikt Biermann
13 March 1907 1967 Bruce Medalist 12 January 1986

Ludwig Biermann studied at the Technische Hochschule Hannover (now the Leibniz University Hannover), and the Universities of Munich and Freiburg before earning his Ph.D. at Göttingen in 1932. He worked at Edinburgh, Jena, Berlin, and Hamburg before becoming founding director of the astrophysics section of the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics, first at Göttingen and after 1958 in Munich. (It is now the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.) Biermann made important contributions to the theory of convection in stellar interiors before the source of stellar energy was known. He modeled the solar chromosphere and corona. He and Thomas G. Cowling did similar work on stellar interiors and stability, and before and after World War II they collaborated by letter. Biermann computed atomic physics parameters needed for stellar models. His study of comet tails led to successful predictions of the solar wind and of the hydrogen halos around comets. In his later years he specialized in plasma physics and magnetic fields in the solar system and in the Galaxy.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Abt, Helmut A. PASP 79,197-201 (1967).

Other awards
Astronomische Gesellschaft, Karl Schwarzschild Medal, 1980, presented by Th. Schmidt-Kaler, Mitt. Astron. Ges. 51, 33-34 (1980) [in German].
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold Medal, 1974, presented by D.E. Blackwell, QJRAS 15, 219-23 (1974).
COSPAR, Space Science Award, 1986.

Biographical materials
Biermann, Ludwig, Ludwig Biermann, 1907-1986 (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Munich, 1988). [autobiography, in German]
Wielebinski, Richard, “Ludwig Franz Benedikt Biermann: The Doyen of German Post-War Astrophysics,” Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage 18, 277-84 (2015).

Trefftz, E., “Nachruf auf Professor Ludwig Biermann,” J. Geophys. 60, 3, 204-06 (1986).
Börner, G., Phys. Bl. 42. Jahrg., Heft 10, p. 358-359 (1986).
Börner, G., “Ludwig Biermann (1907-1986),” in Past, Present and Future Trends in Geophysical Research, Wilfried Schröder, ed., Interdivisional Commission on History of IAGA, 1988 (Newsletters of the Interdivisional Commission on History of IAGA, no. 3)
Cowling, T.G. & L. Mestel, QJRAS 27, 698-700 (1986).
Kippenhahn, Rudolf, Mitt. Astron. Ges., 66, 10-11 (1986).
Lüst, R., Sterne & Weltraum 25, 250-251 (1986).
Priester, W., Sterne & Weltraum 25, 126-27 (1986).
More obituaries

AIP Center for History of Physics
International Atomic Energy Association

Named after him
Minor Planet #73640 Biermann
Astronomische Gesellschaft, Ludwig Biermann Award

More references

The Bruce Medalists

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