Martin Schwarzschild

Martin Schwarzschild


Date of Birth
May 31, 1912
Date of Death
April 10, 1997

Martin Schwarzschild, the son of German astrophysicist Karl Schwarzschild, earned his Ph.D. at Göttingen. He left Germany in 1936, researched and taught at Oslo, Harvard, and Columbia, and, after serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1947. His work on stellar structure and evolution led to improved understanding of pulsating stars, differential solar rotation, post-main sequence evolutionary tracks on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (including how stars become red giants), hydrogen shell sources, the helium flash, and the ages of star clusters. Much of this was done with Richard Härm. Schwarzschild’s 1958 book, Structure and Evolution of the Stars, taught a generation of astrophysicists how to apply electronic computers to the computation of stellar models. In the 1950s and ’60s he headed the Stratoscope projects, which took instrumented balloons to unprecedented heights. The first Stratoscope produced high resolution images of solar granules and sunspots, confirming the existence of convection in the solar atmosphere, and the second obtained infrared spectra of planets, red giant stars, and the nuclei of galaxies. In his later years he made significant contributions toward understanding the dynamics of elliptical galaxies. Schwarzschild was renowned as a teacher, and many of his 22 graduate students became influential astronomers. He held major leadership positions in several scientific societies.

Presentation of Bruce medal

Henyey, L.J., PASP 77, 233-36 (1965).

Other awards

American Association for the Advancement of Science, Newcomb Cleveland Prize, 1957.
American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 1960.
American Astronomical Society Division on Dynamical Astronomy, Dirk Brouwer Award, 1992.
Association pour le Développement International del’Observatoire de Nice, ADION medal, 1985
Astronomische Gesellschaft, Karl Schwarzschild Medal, 1959.
International Balzan Foundation, Balzan Prize, 1994.
National Academy of Sciences, Henry Draper Medal, 1960.
National Medal of Science, 1997.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Jansky Prize, 1980.
Royal Astronomical Society, Eddington Medal, presented by W.H. McCrea, QJRAS 4, 180-82 (1963); Gold medal, 1969, presented by D.H. Sadler, QJRAS 10, 91-94 (1969).
Societé Astronomique de France, Prix Janssen, 1970.

Some offices held

American Astronomical Society, President, 1970-72.

Biographical materials

Bitterman, Jay, Lake County Astronomical Society
Mestel, L., Biographical Memoirs of the Royal Society 45, 469-84 (1999).
Ostriker, Jeremiah P., Biographical memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013.
Trimble, Virginia, Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, 2nd ed. (Springer, NY, 2014), pp. 1963-65.


Dressler, Alan, “Four Stars of the Cosmos: Martin Schwarzschild, Eugene Merle Shoemaker, Lyman Spitzer Jr., Clyde W. Tombaugh),” The New York Times Magazine Jan 4, 1998, p. 44 col. 2.
Mestel, L, Bull. Astr. Soc. India 25, 285 (1997).
Ostriker, Jeremiah, Proc. Am. Phil. Soc. 143, 485-89 (1999).
Paczynski, Bohdan, Bull. Am. Astr. Soc. 29, 1485-86 (1997).
Paczynski, Bohdan, Physics Today 50, 12, 90-91 (Dec 1997).
Pfau, Werner, Mitteilungen der Astronomischen Gesellschaft 81, 5-7 (1998) [in German].
Trimble, Virginia, PASP 109, 1289-97 (1997).


AIP Center for History of Physics (several)
Princeton University: Astrophysics Faculty in 1949

Named after him

Minor Planet #4463 Marschwarzschild [#837 Schwarzschilda is named for his father, Karl]
Schwarzschild-Haus, Astrophysical Institute Potsdam [with Karl Schwarzschild]


Papers, etc.

Schwarzschild’s Papers are at Princeton University. There are 1975 and 1977–1979 oral history interviews with Schwarzschild at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives. There is an oral history interview dealing with his contributions to computing at the Charles Babbage Institute of the University of Minnesota.

Other References: Historical

Search ADS for works about Schwarzschild

Cowling, Thomas, “The Development of the Theory of Stellar Structures,” QJRAS 7, 121 (1966).

Merritt, David, “Martin Schwarschild’s Contribution to Galaxy Dynamics,” in Galaxy Dynamics: A Rutgers Symposium (ASP conf series, v. 182), 1999, pp. 3-10.

Wali, Kameshwar C., Chandra (Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1990).

Other References: Scientific

Search ADS for works by Schwarzschild

Schwarzschild, Martin, “Zur Pulsationstheorie der δ Cephei-Sterne,” Zeitschrift für Astrophysik 11, 152-80 (1935).

Spitzer, Lyman, Jr., & Martin Schwarzschild, “The Possible Influence of Interstellar Clouds on Stellar Velocities,” Ap.J. 114, 385-97 (1951).

Sandage, A.R. & M. Schwarzschild, “Inhomogeneous Stellar Models. II. Models with Exhausted Cores in Gravitational Contraction.,” Ap.J. 116, 463-76 (1952).

Schwarzschild, M., “Mass Distribution and Mass-luminosity Ratio in Galaxies,” Astronomical Journal 59, 273-84 (1954).

Baum, W.A. & M. Schwarzschild, “A Comparison of Stellar Populations in the Andromeda Galaxy and its Elliptical Companion,” Astronomical Journal 60, 247-53 (1955).

Hoyle, F. & M. Schwarzschild, “On the Evolution of Type II Stars.,” Ap.J. 121, 776 (1955) & Ap.J. Supp. 2, 1-40 (1955).

Schwarzschild, Martin, Structure and Evolution of the Stars (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, 1958; Dover, 1965)

Schwarzschild, M., & R. Härm, “Evolution of Very Massive Stars,” Ap.J. 128, 348-60 (1958).

Schwarzschild, M., & R. Härm, “On the Maximum Mass of Stable Stars,” Ap.J. 129, 637-46 (1959).

Schwarzschild, Martin, “Photographs of the Solar Granulation Taken from the Stratosphere,” Ap.J. 130, 345-63 (1959).

Schwarzschild, Martin, “Convection in Stars,” Ap.J. 134, 1-8 (1961) [1960 Russell Lecture].

Bahng, J. & M. Schwarzschild, “Lifetime of Solar Granules,” Ap.J. 134, 312-22 (1961).

Schwarzschild, M., & R. Härm, “Red Giants of Population II. II,” Ap.J. 136, 158-165 (1962).

Woolf, N.J., M. Schwarzschild, & W.K. Rose, “Infrared Spectra of Red-Giant Stars,” Ap.J. 140, 833-52 (1964).

Schwarzschild, M. & R. Härm, “Hydrogen Mixing by Helium-Shell Flashes,” Ap.J. 150, 961-70 (1967).

Schwarzschild, Martin, “Stellar Evolution in Globular Clusters,” QJRAS 11, 12-22 (1970) [1969 George Darwin Lecture].

Light, E. S., R.E. Danielson, & M. Schwarzschild, “The Nucleus of M31,” Ap.J. 194, 257-63 (1974).

Schwarzschild, Martin, “On the Scale of Photospheric Convection in Red Giants and Supergiants,” Ap.J. 195, 137-44 (1975).

Schwarzschild, M., “Triaxial Equilibrium Models for Elliptical Galaxies with Slow Figure Rotation,” Ap.J. 263, 599-610 (1982).

Schwarzschild, Martin, “Self-Consistent Models for Galactic Halos,” Ap.J. 409, 563-77 (1993).


Other Works: Popularizations, Fiction, etc.

Schwarzschild, Martin, “The Interior of the Sun,” Leaflets of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 5, 392-99 (1949) [Leaflet #248].

Schwarzschild, Martin, “The Energy Source in the Interior of the Sun,” Leaflets of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 5, 400-06 (1949) [Leaflet #249].

Schwarzschild, Martin & Barbara, “Balloon Astronomy,” Sci. Am. May 1959.

Schwarzschild, M., “Prepared Statement on the Space Program,” PASP 75, 527 (1963).