Shklovskii, Iosif Samuilovich (1916–1985)
Having graduated from Moscow State University (1938), he began work at the Sternberg State Astronomical Institute, but following the Nazi invasion he moved to Central Asia with a number of other students, including Andrei Sakharov. After the War, he returned to Sternberg, obtained a Ph.D. in mathematical physics (1950) and became head of the Department of Radio Astronomy. He investigated the solar corona, showing that its temperature is around one million K and that it is confined by magnetic fields; carried out early studies of planetary atmospheres; suggested that cosmic rays from occasional nearby supernova explosions may have been the cause of some mass extinctions on Earth and therefore may have played an important role in the evolution of terrestrial life; predicted the existence of astronomical masers; proposed, in 1965, a new distance scale to planetary nebulae and put forward the modern idea that planetary nebulae represent a transitional stage from red giants to white dwarfs; made theoretical and radio studies of supernovae; and successfully explained some X-ray stars as binary systems containing neutron stars.
In a country of tight censorship, Shklovskii was never afraid to give voice to his fertile imagination. Among his many less orthodox suggestions were that the moons of Mars might be artificial (see Mars, moons) and that advanced civilizations might obtain new resources by intentionally triggering supernovas using gamma-ray lasers. One of his students was Nikolai Kardashev.3
Related categories ASTRONOMERS AND ASTROPHYSICISTS
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