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George A. Dulk (1930-2022)

Dulk’s research ranged widely from studies of Jupiter’s radio emission to solar and stellar radio bursts, and led to modern methods of detecting radio emission from extrasolar planets.

Published onFeb 06, 2023
George A. Dulk (1930-2022)

Photo credit: Tim Bastian

Radiophysicist George A. Dulk died peacefully on Friday October 21, 2022.

Born in Denver, Colorado, on May 21, 1930, George was the son of a baker. He took a different route, first attending West Point where he studied physics, then Purdue University where he met and married Magda Dulk. They went to the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he completed his Ph.D. under James Warwick on radio emission from Jupiter. He was the first in the department to graduate and become a professor, serving as department chair in the mid-1980s. He remained there until his retirement in 1990, at which point he moved to France and continued work at Paris Observatory in close collaboration with his second wife, Yolande Leblanc.

George’s professional trajectory spanned an enormous range, the common theme being radiophysics, both observational and theoretical elements. His early work addressed Io’s modulation of Jupiter’s decametric radio bursts, resulting in several seminal publications. He then turned his attention to solar radio bursts, taking advantage of the newly-completed Culgoora Radioheliograph and establishing several long term and fruitful collaborations in Australia, particularly that with Don Melrose. With colleagues at Australia’s CSIRO Radiophysics he wrote some of the definitive descriptions of imaging observations of metric radio bursts.

George was one of the early users of the Very Large Array for solar observations. The instrument also stimulated his interest in radio emission from stars. He and Don Melrose wrote the influential paper suggesting the importance of the cyclotron maser instability, known to be important for planetary radio emission, for solar and stellar radio bursts. The paper continues to be cited frequently.

George’s interest in microwave emission during the Solar Maximum Mission era spurred him to write a well-known review of Solar and Stellar Radio Emission, still garnering a healthy number of citations to this day. With Robert Winglee, George was the first to propose that cyclotron maser emission may serve as the basis for detecting radio emission from extrasolar planets, an idea that has served as the basis of exoplanetary searches at radio wavelengths for more than thirty years.

In the last stage of his career, George worked closely with French colleagues to exploit radio spectroscopic observations from space-based platforms such as ISEE-3 and the WIND/WAVES experiment to study interplanetary radio bursts, helping to set the stage for modern radio spectrographs such as those currently flying on Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter.

George’s enthusiasm for all aspects of teaching and research, as well as his thoughtfulness and care, set an enormously positive example for his students and colleagues. He will be missed.

George is survived by his daughter Valerie, son-in-law David, grandchildren Chantal and Jack, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Adapted and reproduced with permission of the authors, from the AAS Solar Physics Division obituary

Dulk’s AstroGen entry

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