Su-Shu Huang

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Su-Shu Huang
Native name 黃授書
Born 黃授書
(1915-04-16)April 16, 1915
Changshu, Kiangshu, Republic of China
Died September 15, 1977(1977-09-15) (aged 62)
Beijing, China
Citizenship United States
Fields Astrophysics
Institutions Tsing Hua University
University of Chicago
University of California, Berkeley
Goddard Space Flight Center
Institute for Advanced Study
Catholic University of America
Northwestern University
Alma mater Chekiang University (B.Sc.)
Tsing Hua University (M.Sc.)
University of Chicago (Ph.D.)
Thesis Wave Mechanical Calculations in Astrophysical Interest (1949)
Doctoral advisor Otto Struve
Known for Explorations of the circumstellar habitable zone and prerequisites of extraterrestrial life
Notable awards Guggenheim Foundation Fellow (1951)
Su-Shu Huang
Traditional Chinese 黃授書
Simplified Chinese

Su-Shu Huang (黃授書, April 16, 1915 – September 15, 1977) was an American astrophysicist. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Huang began his career with the study of the continuous absorption coefficients of two-electron systems, but eventually his research focus turned to the study of stellar atmospheres, radiative transfer, and binary and multiple star systems. In subsequent years, Huang began to cover the topic of life on extrasolar planets and the prerequisites thereof, coining the term "habitable zone" to refer to the region around a star where planets could support liquid water at their surfaces at a 1959 conference of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.[1]

Education and career[edit]

A native of China, Huang earned his master's degree at Tsing Hua University, lecturing in astronomy at that institution from 1943 to 1947 before immigrating to the United States, earning a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949. After teaching astronomy at that institution for the two following years, Huang became an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, a position he stayed in before moving to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland in 1959. Concurrent with his Goddard position, Huang was a member of Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Study from 1960 to 1961, then a professor of astrophysics at the Catholic University of America from 1963 to 1964. In 1964, Huang became professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University, though he stayed at Goddard until 1965.[2]

In his early years he studied two-electron systems, Huang later studied stellar atmospheres, radiative zones, and the dynamics of stars in binary or multiple star systems. Huang's research into the physics of stars later led him to delineate the types of stars that could support extraterrestrial life, leading to his coining of the term "habitable zone"[1] and eventually his study of planetary habitability in a 1960 paper on the sizes of habitable planets.[3] Huang's explorations into extraterrestrial life were also published in popular works, such as American Scientist[4] and Scientific American.[5]

Later life and legacy[edit]

Late in his life, Huang made two trips to China, in 1974 and 1977. He died of a heart attack in Beijing during the latter trip, on September 15.[2] Two years after his death, the then newly discovered main-belt asteroid 3014 Huangsushu was named in his honor.[6]


  1. ^ a b Huang, Su-Shu (October 1959). "The Problem of Life in the Universe and the Mode of Star Formation". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 71 (422): 421–424. Bibcode:1959PASP...71..421H. doi:10.1086/127417. 
  2. ^ a b "Guide to the Su-Shu Huang (1915–1977) Papers". Archival and Manuscript Collections. Northwestern University Library. 1944–1980. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Huang, Su-Shu (1960). "The Sizes of Habitable Planets". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 72 (429): 489—493. Bibcode:1960PASP...72..489H. doi:10.1086/127586. 
  4. ^ Huang, Su-Shu (September 1959). "Occurrence of Life in the Universe". American Scientist 47 (3): 397—402. 
  5. ^ Huang, S. S. (1960). "Life Outside the Solar System". Scientific American 202 (4): 55. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0460-55.  edit
  6. ^ Minor Planet Center. "3014 Huangsushu". JPL Small-Body Database. Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 17 July 2013.