Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Martin Ryle

27 September 2017

The pioneering radio astronomer shared the first physics Nobel honoring an advance in astrophysics.

Martin Ryle

Born 27 September 1918 in Brighton, UK, Nobel laureate Martin Ryle was a pioneering radio astronomer. After earning a physics degree at Oxford University in 1939, Ryle worked on the development of radar during World War II. After the war, he received a fellowship at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory, where he worked with radio physicist J. A. Ratcliffe and Cavendish director Lawrence Bragg studying radio emissions from the Sun, stars, and other astronomical objects. Among Ryle’s many innovations and inventions was the aperture synthesis technique, which produced higher-resolution images by mixing signals from multiple radio telescopes located several kilometers apart. That work led to the detection of pulsars. In 1948 Ryle was appointed a lecturer in physics at Cambridge, and in 1959 he became chair of radio astronomy. Ryle helped found and served as director of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, which opened in 1957. Ryle was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1952, knighted in 1966, appointed Astronomer Royal in 1972, and jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics with fellow Cavendish colleague Antony Hewish in 1974. From the 1970s until his death in 1984, Ryle pursued various social and political issues and became an outspoken critic of nuclear weapons and power. (Photo credit: Edward Leigh F.I.I.P. F.R.P.S., University of Cambridge, courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, W. F. Meggers Gallery of Nobel Laureates Collection)

Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal