Henry Norris Russell

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Henry Norris Russell

Henry Norris Russell (born October 25, 1877 in Oyster Bay , New York , † February 18, 1957 in Princeton , New Jersey ) was an American astronomer .

life and work

Around 1910 Russell and Ejnar Hertzsprung developed the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram .

In 1922 Russell introduced a constellation system using a three-letter abbreviation of the Latin name of the constellation.

Together with Frederick Albert Saunders (1875-1963), he described the Russell-Saunders coupling in 1925 (see spin-orbit coupling , Hund's rules ).

Together with Raymond Smith Dugan and John Quincy Stewart , he wrote a two-volume textbook, the second volume of which spread the idea of ​​stellar state quantities, see Vogt-Russell theorem .

In 1929 Russell confirmed Cecilia Payne's discovery in 1925 that the sun consists for the most part of hydrogen and helium , and determined the mass ratio to be 3: 1. Thereupon the Russian-North American physicist George Gamow expressed the assumption that the sun's energy source was to be found in the fusion of four hydrogen nuclei to form one helium nucleus and called the process nuclear fusion or hydrogen fusion ( hydrogen burning ). Gamow's guess later turned out to be correct.


Honors and memberships

From 1934 to 1937 he was President of the American Astronomical Society , 1931/32 of the American Philosophical Society and 1933 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science . He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1918) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1921), foreign member of the Royal Society (1937) and the academies in Paris , Edinburgh , Brussels and Rome. He was President of the International Astronomical Union's Commissions on Stellar Spectroscopy and Star Composition. He received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1921 , the Lalande Prize and the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 1922, the Bruce Medal and the Rumford Prize in 1925 , the Franklin Medal in 1934 and the Janssen Medal of the French Academy of Sciences in 1936 .

The American Astronomical Society created the annual Henry Norris Russell Lectureship in his honor. Russell received this in 1946. The asteroid (1762) Russell is named after him. The crater of the moon Russell has been named after him and the astronomer John Russell since 1936 .


  • David H. DeVorkin: Henry Norris Russell , Spectrum of Science, Jul 1989, pp. 107-112.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. (PDF file) Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed April 4, 2020 .
  2. ^ Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, Volume 1 in the Google Book Search