Herbert Gursky

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Herbert Gursky
Born May 27, 1930
Bronx, New York
Died December 1, 2006(2006-12-01) (aged 76)
Falls Church, Virginia
Nationality American
Fields Astrophysics
Institutions Naval Research Laboratory
Alma mater Princeton University
Known for Discovery of Cosmic X-ray Sources

Herbert Gursky (May 27, 1930, Bronx, New York – December 1, 2006) was the Superintendent of the Naval Research Laboratory's Space Science Division and Chief Scientist of the E.O. Hulburt Center for Space Research.


Gursky's research activities have concentrated in the area of X-ray astronomy. He has published more than 100 articles in this area and has edited two books on the subject. He was the Principal Investigator for NASA sponsored space programs on the Astronomical Netherlands Satellite and the 1st High Energy Astrophysics Observatory (HEAO-1) satellite and a co-investigator on numerous other rocket and satellite experiments. In addition, Gursky managed research activities encompassing solar physics and magnetospheric research while at AS&E and programs of ground-based astronomy and infrared astronomy at SAO, where he also oversaw the completion of the Multiple Mirror Telescope, a joint program of SAO and the University of Arizona, comprising a 4.5 meter (Equivalent) telescope of novel design that is situated at Mt. Hopkins in Arizona. Gursky's work at the Naval Research Laboratory involved direction of a basic research unit involving 80 Ph.D. scientists conducting investigations in the areas of space astronomy, solar physics and atmospheric science.

Gursky is best known as a member of the group that made the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources in 1961, his work with sounding rockets (he actually launched the June 12, 1962 rocket) that culminated in the optical identification of the bright X-ray source Scorpio X-1 in 1966, and later Cygnus X-1, his work on clusters of galaxies and the diffuse X-ray background from the Uhuru Satellite and the discovery of X-ray bursters on the Astronomical Netherlands Satellite.

Gursky died of gastric cancer.


Positions held[edit]


  • 1975. Neutron Stars, Black Holes and Binary X-Ray Sources. Herbert Gursky (Editor), Remo Ruffini (Editor). D. Reidel Publishing Company. ISBN 90-277-0541-0
  • 2001. X-Ray Astronomy. Riccardo Giacconi (Editor), Herbert Gursky (Editor). Springer. ISBN 90-277-0542-9.
  • 2001. Exploring the Universe. Herbert Gursky (Editor), Remo Ruffini (Editor), L. Stella (Editor). World Scientific Publishing Company. ISBN 981-02-4423-1