Walter Lewin : biography

31 January 1936 -

Lewin was closely involved in of the nearby galaxies M31 and Messier 81. Lewin and his graduate student Eugene Magnier have made deep optical of M31 in four colors; they have published a catalogue of 500,000 objects. Lewin initiated the successful X-ray observations within six days of the appearance of supernova SN 1993J in M81.

Since 1978, Lewin has collaborated with his close friend of the University of Amsterdam with whom he has co-authored 150 papers.

Lewin and graduate student Jeffrey Kommers have worked on data from the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO). This was a collaboration with the in Huntsville, AL. In early December 1995, with co-workers Kouveliotou and Van Paradijs, they discovered a new type of X-ray burst source: (GRO J1744-28) the Bursting Pulsar, and received a NASA Achievement Award for this discovery.

In 1996-1998, Dr. Lewin's collaboration with Professor Van der Klis in Amsterdam led to the discovery of kHz oscillations in many X-ray binaries.

Using the Chandra Observatory, Lewin and his graduate student David Pooley made extensive studies of supernovae and faint X-ray sources in Globular Clusters. This research is done in collaboration with scientists from the University of Washington, IAS in Princeton, UC Berkeley, the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht in The Netherlands, and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. The research on supernovae produced the first X-ray spectrum with unprecedented energy resolution of SN 1989S. The research on Globular Clusters demonstrated that X-ray binary stars are cooked in the cores of the clusters where the stellar density is very high.

With graduate student Jon Miller, Lewin made extensive studies of black-hole X-ray binaries in our galaxy. Evidence was found for spectral distortions of the iron line (in X-rays) indicative of the influence of general relativity on the iron-line emission in the vicinity of the "event horizon" of the black holes. This research on black-hole binaries is continuing using all available observatories in orbit: Chandra, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), and the European observatories XMM-Newton and Integral.

Lewin is also an art enthusiast and collector. He has given a lecture at MIT . In the seventies and eighties, he collaborated with the artists Otto Piene (born in Germany), who was one of the founders of the ZERO movement and the director of MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and Peter Struycken (Dutch) who is one of the leading computer artists in the world.

Professor Lewin has published about 450 scientific articles to date.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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