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Jan Oort

From Academic Kids

Jan Hendrik Oort (April 28, 1900November 5, 1992) was an internationally famous Dutch astronomer. He profoundly stimulated radio astronomy. The well-known Oort cloud bears his name.

Oort was born in Franeker in Friesland and studied in Groningen with Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn. His Ph.D thesis was titled The stars of high velocity. In 1927 he proved that the Milky Way galaxy rotates, by analyzing the movements of stars. In 1935 he became professor at Leiden University at the faculty where Ejnar Hertzsprung was the director.

Oort was fascinated by radio waves from the universe. After the Second World War he was a pioneer in the new field of radio astronomy, using an old radar antenna from the Germans.

In the 1950s he raised funds for a new radio telescope in Dwingeloo, in the east part of the Netherlands, to research the centre of the galaxy. In 1970 a bigger telescope (the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope) was built in Westerbork, near the old one. It consisted of twelve smaller telescopes working together as an interferometer to perform aperture synthesis observations, a technique which had been previously suggested by Oort, but which was first tested experimentally in Cambridge by Martin Ryle and in Sydney by Joseph Pawsey.

His hypothesis that the comets have a common origin, postulated in 1950, was later proven to be correct. Another contribution of Oort was that he was able to demonstrate that the light from the Crab nebula was polarized.

A few of Oort's Discoveries =

  • Oort calculated that the centre of the Milky Way was 30.000 light years from the Earth in the direction of the constellation Sagitarius.
  • He showed that the Milky Way had a mass 100 billion times that of the Sun.
  • In 1950 he suggested that comets came from a common region of the Solar System (now called the Oort cloud).

Honors

fr:Jan Oort nl:Jan Hendrik Oort pt:Jan Hendrik Oort sl:Jan Hendrik Oort

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