Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 1179-1180


Kerr, Frank John

  • Woodruff T. SullivanAffiliated withUniversity of Washington Email author 
  • , Gillian KnappAffiliated withDepartment of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University

BornSaint Albans, Hertfordshire, England, 8 January 1918

DiedSilver Spring, Maryland, USA, 15 September 2000

Australian-American radio astronomer Frank J. Kerr was the first to map out the gas disk of the half of the Galaxy visible from the Southern Hemisphere, demonstrating the existence of spiral arms, a warp in the gas disk, and some evidence for net expansion. Joined to a northern map made in the Netherlands by Gart Westerhout, this provided the definitive picture of the Milky Way as a rotating spiral for many years.

Kerr studied physics at the University of Melbourne, receiving his BSc degree in 1938 and his MSc degree in 1940. He then became a staff member at the Radiophysics Laboratory in Sydney, Australia, continuing his affiliation until 1968; Joseph Pawsey was his key mentor during these years at the Radiophysics Laboratory. Kerr held research posts at Harvard University (where he also earned an MA in astronomy in 1951), Leiden University, and the University of Texas and in 1962 ...

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