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Aleksander Wolszczan

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Beside Nicholaus Copernicus, another famous Polish astronomer connected with Torun is Aleksander Wolszczan, who he was the first to prove the existence of another planetary system in the Universe apart from our own solar system.

Aleksander WolszczanHe was born in 1946 in Szczecinek. After the studies, in 1969 he started research work at the University of Nicholas Copernicus in Torun. In 1973 he went on a scientific visit to Bonn, Germany where the biggest Europe radiotelescope was situated, and after that he became interested in radioastronomy. In 1982 he moved to the United States. At the beginning, he worked at the Cornell University in Ithaca, then at the Princeton University and as a professor at the Pennsylvania State University. Concurrently, since 1994 he has been a professor at the University in Torun and a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN).He carried out astronomical observation in the Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico where the largest radiotelescope in the world was located. In 1990 he discovered the pulsar PSR B1257+12 orbited by two planets. This planetary system was the first extra-solar system discovered in the Universe whose existence was proved. Wolszczan published his findings in 1992 and confirmed it in1994. In spite of initial misgivings of some experts, today his discovery is regarded as fully substantiated and is compared with discovery of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, foreign galaxies or quasars.

Thanks to his achievements, Wolszczan was placed on the list of 25 discoverers of the Universe, published by "Astronomy" – one of the most significant astronomical periodics of the world. In 1996, he was awarded the Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize by the American Astronomical Society. July 1999 brought him an acknowledgement of "Nature" for one of the sixteen fundamental works, published by the magazine (he was among such researchers as Einstein and Roentgen).

He also was nominated among 26 other pretenders for the Inhabitant of Torun of the 20th century.

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