29 April 1946 |
|Alma mater||Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń|
|Known for||Discovery of the first extrasolar planets and pulsar planets|
|Notable awards||Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize (1996)|
Wolszczan was educated in Poland (he gained a MSc in 1969 and received his PhD in 1975 at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń). In 1982, he moved to the U.S. to work at Cornell and Princeton universities. Later he became an astronomy professor at Pennsylvania State University, where he currently teaches a "Life in the universe" class. From 1994 to 2008, he was also a professor at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. He is a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Working with Dale Frail, Wolszczan carried out astronomical observations from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico which led them to the discovery of the pulsar PSR B1257+12 in 1990. They showed in 1992 that the pulsar was orbited by two planets. The radii of their orbits are 0.36 and 0.47 AU respectively. This was the first confirmed discovery of planets outside the Solar System (as of 11/03/2016 there are 3,403 known such planets).
In 2003 Maciej Konacki and Wolszczan determined the orbital inclinations of the two pulsar planets, showing that the actual masses are approximately 3.9 and 4.3 Earth masses respectively.
In 2008 Gazeta Prawna disclosed that from 1973 till 1988 Wolszczan was an informant (codenamed "Lange") for the Polish Służba Bezpieczeństwa, which he confirmed. The resulting controversy in Polish media resulted in his subsequent resignation which was accepted by the rector of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. He continues teaching and researching at Penn State.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aleksander Wolszczan.|
- Wolszczan, A., and D.A. Frail. A planetary system around the millisecond pulsar PSR 1257+12. Nature 355(6356):145-7, January 9, 1992.
- Wolszczan, A. Confirmation of Earth-mass planets orbiting the millisecond pulsar PSR B1257+12. Science 264(5158):538-42, April 22, 1994.
- Konacki, M. and Wolszczan, A. Masses and Orbital Inclinations of Planets in the PSR B1257+12 System Astrophysical Journal, Volume 591, Issue 2, pp. L147-L150, 2003.
- "Wolszczan Featured on Millennium Stamp Set with Pope John Paul, Lech Walesa, and Nicolaus Copernicus". www.science.psu.edu. Pennsylvania State University. 2002-02-18. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
- "Rektor UMK przyjął rezygnację prof. Wolszczana".
- Polska, Grupa Wirtualna (18 September 2008). "Prof. Wolszczan - wybitny astronom, kiepski agent".
- "Wolszczan agentem kontrwywiadu PRL?".