Quasars and the Caltech-Carnegie connection

Waluska, Edward R. (2007) Quasars and the Caltech-Carnegie connection. Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 10 (2). pp. 79-91.

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A collaborative relationship existed between the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Carnegie Institution of Washington (Carnegie) beginning in 1946, when a formal agreement was signed between the two groups of trustees. This agreement was designed to integrate Mount Wilson Observatory and the new unfinished Palomar Observatory into a single scientific entity. During the period from 1946 to 1979, much astronomical research was done at both institutions as a direct result of this collaboration. Part of this research included the first identification of a radio source with an apparently stellar object by Allan Sandage of Carnegie and Thomas Matthews of Caltech in 1960, and the first identification of spectral lines at large redshift from a radio source associated with such an object by Maarten Schmidt of Caltech in 1963. This paper examines how the discovery of these objects - which came to be known as quasars - and subsequent research on them, indirectly had an impact on the relationship between Caltech and Camegie by leading to an environment of increased competitiveness that eventually resulted in the formal dissolution of the relationship in 1980. In this paper, the controversy surrounding the discovery and the interpretation of quasars is examined to provide further understanding about the working relationship when the two institutions were formally collaborating. Some of the data used in this paper were drawn from personal correspondence and interviews with the researchers themselves, and this research forms part of a dissertation for a Ph.D.degree in the Centre for Astronomy at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia,

Item ID: 2409
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-2807
Keywords: astronomical history, quasars, Carnegie Institution of Washington, California Institute of Technology, 200-inch Palomar telescope, Owens Valley radio observatory, J. Greenstein, T. Matthews, A. Sandage, M. Schmidt
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Reproduced with permission from Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage.

Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2009 23:33
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