University of Maryland Astronomy Professor Richard Mushotzky was awarded the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) 2022 Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, which is chosen annually based on a lifetime of eminence in astronomical research.
Mushotzky’s award recognizes his “lifetime of innovative X-ray and multiwavelength research, including foundational studies of the properties of active galactic nuclei and the composition and structures of hot gas in clusters of galaxies.” His highly productive career also included co-invention of the X-ray calorimeter, a device used to detect and measure the energy of X-ray photons, revealing detailed information about energetic astrophysical phenomena in our universe.
“It is a great honor to be recognized by the American Astronomical Society for my lifetime of work and I am truly amazed that I received it,” Mushotzky said. “I owe much to my colleagues, collaborators and especially the graduate students I have worked with."
Mushotzky has a long history of research in high-energy astrophysics and has recently focused on understanding the triggering mechanisms in active galaxies (why some massive black holes are accreting and others are not), the nature of ultra-luminous X-ray sources and whether they are intermediate black holes, the evolution of active galaxies across cosmic time, the nature of the innermost regions around supermassive black holes, and the physics of clusters of galaxies and their use as tracers of metal production in the universe.
He has been involved in the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data from many of the X-ray spectroscopy and imaging experiments flown in the last 35 years, including OSO-7, OSO-8, HEAO-1, HEAO-2, EXOSAT, Ginga, Rosat, BBXRT, ASCA, XMM, Chandra, XTE, Suzaku, and Hitomi. He was an interdisciplinary scientist on the Chandra science working group; a member of the ASTRO-E, Suzaku, and Hitomi science advisory group; a mission scientist on the XMM Science Advisory Group; and the NASA XMM project scientist.
“We are all so pleased to see the acknowledgment this award brings to Richard’s many contributions and influence in X-ray astronomy,” said Andrew Harris, chair of UMD’s Department of Astronomy. “It's one of the highest honors that the AAS bestows, and it is certainly well deserved.”
Muskotzky has advised 18 Ph.D. students and worked closely with numerous postdoctoral research fellows and other graduate students. He received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1983 and 2003, the NASA Exceptional Achievement award, the Goddard Lindsay Award for Scientific Achievement, Robert Goddard Award, Israel Pollack Distinguished Lecturer Award from Haifa University in Israel, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. He is the author or co-author of over 470 papers with 38,000 citations.
Mushotzky joined NASA in 1977 as a postdoc and spent 32 years at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, working up to a senior technical position before joining UMD as a faculty member in 2009. His move to UMD came after many years of being an adjunct faculty member and graduate student advisor. He received his Ph.D. in 1976 and his master’s degree in 1971 from UC San Diego and his bachelor’s degree from MIT in 1968.
Mushotzky will present the Russell Lecture at the January 2023 AAS meeting in Seattle, Washington.
Text adapted from article written by Rob Gutro of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
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