Astrophysicist Herbert Gursky dies

December 18, 2006

Astrophysicist Herbert Gursky, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Space Science Division, died earlier this month in Fairfax, Va.

The cause of death of the 76-year-old scientist was stomach cancer, his family told The New York Times.

Gursky helped develop an X-ray detector launched into space that, in 1966, discovered a star in the constellation Scorpio was emitting more X-rays than visible light, the newspaper said. At the time, the sun was the only confirmed source of X-rays in the upper atmosphere.

In 1971, he and others at American Science and Engineering Inc., in Cambridge, Mass., discovered Cygnus, considered to be the first recorded example of a black hole.

Gursky received his doctorate in physics from Princeton University in 1958. After teaching at Columbia University, he joined American Science and Engineering in 1961 and became director of the company's space research division in 1970.

Gursky moved to Harvard in 1973 and was associate director of optical and infrared astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics from 1975-81, when he then joined the Naval Research Laboratory as chief scientist for space research.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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