Martin Ryle

  • From:

    University of Cambridge │ Cambridge, England

  • Year:

    1971

  • Subject:

    Engineering

  • Award:

    Michelson

  • Citation:

    For radio interferometer measurement.

Sir Martin Ryle was born in 1918 in Brighton, England. He studied at Bradfield College and Oxford University, graduating in 1939.

Following his degree, Ryle helped to design radar equipment during World War II. After the war, he received a fellowship at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, where he became an early investigator of extraterrestrial radio sources and developed advanced radio telescopes using the principles of radar. While serving as university lecturer in physics at Cambridge from 1948 to 1959, he became director of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory in 1957, and he became professor of radio astronomy in 1959. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1952, was knighted in 1966, and became Astronomer Royal in 1972.

Ryle's early work centered on studies of radio waves from the Sun, sunspots, and a few nearby stars. He guided the Cambridge radio astronomy group in the production of radio source catalogues, which led to the discovery of the first quasi-stellar object (quasar). To map quasars, Ryle developed a technique called aperture synthesis. By using two radio telescopes and changing the distance between them, he obtained data that provided tremendously increased resolving power. His improved telescope system was used to locate the first pulsar, which had been discovered in 1967 by Antony Hewish and Jocelyn Bell of the Cambridge group.

Ryle and Antony Hewish shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974, the first Nobel prize awarded in recognition of astronomical research.

Information as of 1974