Sir Arthur Eddington was an eminent English astronomer, physicist and mathematician. He is noted for his groundbreaking research work in astrophysics. Being the first person to investigate the motion, internal structure and evolution of stars, Eddington is widely considered to be one of the greatest astronomers of all time.
Early Life and Education:
Born on December 28, 1882 in Kendal, Cumbria, Arthur Eddington’s father was the head of a local school. Eddington was a bright student and he won an entrance scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge. After graduating three years later, he accepted a teaching position, and after a few months, Eddington became the Chief Assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
Contributions and Achievements:
Eddington visited Malta in 1909 to find out the longitude of the geodetic station of the place. He also visited Brazil as the head of the eclipse expedition. He became the Plumian Professor of Astronomy in Cambridge in 1913, where he taught for about 31 years.
He published his first book, “Stellar Movements and the structure of the Universe”, in 1914. It laid the groundwork for scientific exposition. “The Internal Construction of the Stars”, another work by Eddington was published in 1926, which still remains one of the best-selling books about astronomy. His “Mathematical Theory of Relativity” was the earliest work in English language that explained the mathematical details of Einstein’s theory of gravitation.
Eddington discovered in 1926 that the inward gravitational pressure of a star must maintain the outward radiation and gas pressure to remain in equilibrium. He also demonstrated that there was an upper limit on the mass of a star. Eddington discovered mass-luminosity relationship, which implies that the size of a star is directly proportional to its luminosity, making the mass of a star to be decided upon its intrinsic brightness.
In “Fundamental Theory”, which was published after his death, Eddington introduced his calculations of many of the constant of nature, particularly the recession velocity constant of the external galaxies, the ratio of the gravitational force to the electrical force between a proton and an electron, and the number of particles in the universe.
Later Life and Death:
Arthur Eddington became a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1906, and eight years later, an elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1914. He was knighted in 1938.
Eddington died in Cambridge, England on November 22, 1944 after an unsuccessful surgical operation. Eddington Memorial Scholarship and Eddington Medal were established after his death, in his honor.