Bohdan Paczyński

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Bohdan Paczyński
Bohdan Paczyński.jpg
Born(1940-02-08)February 8, 1940
Vilnius, Lithuania
DiedApril 19, 2007(2007-04-19) (aged 67)
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Alma materUniversity of Warsaw
Known forPaczyński-Wiita potential
AwardsKarl Schwarzschild Medal (1981)
Eddington Medal (1987)
Heineman Prize (1992)
Prize of the Foundation for Polish Science (1996)
Henry Draper Medal (1997)
Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1999)
Bruno Rossi Prize (2000)
Marian Smoluchowski Medal (2000)
Bruce Medal (2002)
Henry Norris Russell Lectureship (2006)
Scientific career
InstitutionsPolish Academy of Sciences
Princeton University
Doctoral advisorStefan Piotrowski
Włodzimierz Zonn

Bohdan Paczyński or Bohdan Paczynski (8 February 1940 – 19 April 2007) was a Polish astronomer notable in the theory of the stellar evolution, accretion discs, and gamma ray bursts.


Paczyński was born on 8 February 1940 in Vilnius, Lithuania, to a lawyer and a teacher of Polish literature. In 1945 his family chose to leave for Poland and settled in Kraków, and then in 1949 in Warsaw. At the age of 18, Paczyński published his first scientific article in Acta Astronomica. Between 1959 and 1962 he studied astronomy at the University of Warsaw. Two years later he received a doctorate under the tutelage of Stefan Piotrowski and Włodzimierz Zonn.

In 1962 Paczyński became a member of the Centre of Astronomy of the Polish Academy of Sciences, where he continued to work for nearly 20 years. In 1974 he received habilitation and in 1979 became a professor. Thanks to his works on theoretical astronomy, at the age of 36 he became the youngest member of the Polish Academy of Sciences.[1]

In 1981 Paczyński visited the United States, where he gave a series of lectures at Caltech to former interns at his Warsaw-based institute. After the introduction of the Martial Law in Poland he decided to stay abroad. He was the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Professor of Astrophysics at Princeton University.

Paczyński was the initiator of time-domain sky surveys: Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE, led by Andrzej Udalski of Warsaw University Observatory) and All Sky Automated Survey (ASAS, created together with Grzegorz Pojmański).

His new methods of discovering cosmic objects and measuring their mass by using gravitational lenses gained him international recognition, and he is acknowledged for coining the term microlensing. He was also an early proponent of the idea that gamma-ray bursts are at cosmological distances.

His research concentrated on stellar evolution, gravitational lensing and gravitational microlensing, variable stars, gamma-ray bursts, and galactic structure.

In 1999, he became the first astronomer to receive all three major awards of the Royal Astronomical Society,[2] by winning the Gold Medal, having won the Eddington Medal in 1987 and the George Darwin Lectureship in 1995.[3]

He was honoured with the title of doctor honoris causa by Wrocław University in Poland (on June 29, 2005) and Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń in Poland (on September 22, 2006).

In January 2006 he was awarded Henry Norris Russell Lectureship of the American Astronomical Society, "for his highly original contributions to a wide variety of fields including advanced stellar evolution, the nature of gamma ray bursts, accretion in binary systems, gravitational lensing, and cosmology. His research has been distinguished by its creativity and breadth, as well as the stimulus it has provided to highly productive observational investigations".

He died of brain cancer on April 19, 2007, in Princeton, New Jersey.[4]



Named after him

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bohdan Paczyński" (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza. October 10, 2007. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012.
  2. ^ Trimble, Virginia (July 20, 2007). "Professor Bohdan Paczynski". Obituary. The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved August 10, 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ Spergel, David (July 7, 2020). "Bohdan Paczynski (1940–2007)". Bulletin of the Aas. Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society. 39 (4). Archived from the original on August 14, 2021.
  4. ^ Pearce, Jeremy (April 26, 2007). "Bohdan Paczynski, Pioneering Astrophysicist, Dies at 67". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007.
  5. ^ "Henry Draper Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on January 26, 2013.
  6. ^ "Winners of the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society". Royal Astronomical Society. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011.
  7. ^ "Past Winners of the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal". Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011.
  8. ^ "Grants, Prizes and Awards". American Astronomical Society. Archived from the original on December 22, 2010.
  9. ^ "Prezydent RP odznaczył pośmiertnie Bohdana Krzysztofa Paczyńskiego" [The President of the Republic of Poland posthumously awarded Bohdan Krzysztof Paczyński] (in Polish). July 9, 2007. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017.

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