David Axon

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David John Axon
Born 1951
Died 5 April 2012(2012-04-05) (aged 61)
Fields Astronomy
Institutions Rochester Institute of Technology
University of Hertfordshire
Space Telescope Science Institute
Jodrell Bank Observatory
Cambridge University
University of Manchester
University of Sussex
Alma mater University of Durham

David John Axon (1951 – 5 April 2012) was a British astrophysicist specialising in observations of active galactic nuclei. He was a professor at the University of Hertfordshire and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and at the time of his death was Head of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex.

Early life[edit]

David Axon was born in Doncaster in the county of Yorkshire, England, to an English father and Welsh mother. He received a bachelor's degree in Physics from the University of Durham in 1972, and in 1977 he completed his Ph.D. at the same institution under the direction of Arnold Wolfendale. He subsequently held research fellowships at the University of Sussex, University College London and the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge.


In 1983 Axon was appointed to a faculty position at the University of Manchester where he taught Physics and carried out research at the Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratory at Jodrell Bank Observatory.[1] In 1993 he took up an appointment at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore where he was the instrument scientist responsible for the NICMOS near infra-red camera. He returned to Manchester in 1998 but the following year was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Physical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire. From 2002–2008 he was Professor and Chair of the Physics Department at RIT.[2] He maintained a research chair at Hertfordshire.


David Axon was a leading expert in the field of astronomical polarimetry and the phenomenology of active galactic nuclei. His scientific accomplishments included discovery of the first, X-ray selected BL Lac object,[3] discovery of the first "superwind" galaxy,[4] and discovery of strong magnetic fields in the jets of young stellar objects.[5]


David Axon died in 2012 of an apparent heart attack while visiting RIT.[6]


  1. ^ "Prof David Axon, Sussex School of Maths and Physics". Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "David Axon's homepage, RIT Physics Faculty & Staff". Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Wilson, A. S., Ward, M. J, Axon, D. J., Elvis, M., and Meurs, E. J. A. (1979), On the identification of the high-latitude X-ray source 2A 1219 + 305, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 187, 109.
  4. ^ Axon, D. J. and Taylor, K. (1978), M82: the exploding galaxy, Nature, 274, 37.
  5. ^ Ray, T. P.; Muxlow, T. W. B., Axon, D. J., Brown, A., Corcoran, D., Dyson, J., and Mundt, R. (1997), Large-scale magnetic fields in the outflow from the young stellar object T Tauri S, Nature, 385, 415
  6. ^ Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "RIT professor dies". Retrieved 12 April 2012. 

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