Walter Adams, US astronomer

Walter Adams, US astronomer

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Credit: UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO YERKS OBSERVATORY/EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Walter Adams (1876-1956), US astronomer. Adams was born in Syria, where his parents were missionaries, but moved to the USA at the age of nine. He was educated in America and Europe, and researched the spectroscopic properties of stars. In 1915 he observed the spectrum of Sirius B, and discovered it to be very hot. As it is so dim, he concluded that the star was small and dense. This was the first discovery of a white dwarf star, the final stage of evolution of stars such as the Sun. Adams also found the relativistic spectral shift associated with very dense stars, thus supporting Einstein's theories. Adams was director of the Mount Wilson Observatory from 1923 to 1946.

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