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Lindblad, Bertil

galaxy motion stellar centre

(1895–1965) Swedish astronomer: proposed rotation of our Galaxy.

Lindblad graduated at Uppsala and spent 2 years in research in astronomy in the USA before becoming director of the new Stockholm Observatory in 1927 and spending his career there. Jacobus Kapteyn (1851–1922) had discovered from a survey of stellar motion in 1904 that most stars fell into two groups, or streams, moving in opposite directions in the sky. Kapteyn’s interpretation of this was that our Solar System lies near the centre of our Galaxy (the Milky Way). However, proposed that the centre of the Galaxy was some 50 000 light years away, in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, and so a lively debate between astronomers ensued. Lindblad studied Kapteyn’s results and concluded that Shapley’s idea was correct, provided that the speed of rotation of stars about the centre of the Galaxy depends on their distance from it (the ‘differential rotation’ theory). Soon afterwards, in 1927, OORT’S study of stellar motion provided support for Lindblad’s views, which inspired a number of Swedish astronomers (including his son Per Olaf Lindblad) to work on stellar motion.

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