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Michael James Ledlow (1964–2004)

Published onDec 01, 2004
Michael James Ledlow (1964–2004)

Michael James Ledlow died on 5 June 2004 from a large, unsuspected brain tumor. Since 2000 he had been on the scientific staff of the Gemini Observatory in La Serena, Chile, initially as a Science Fellow and then as a tenure-track astronomer.

Michael was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on 1 October 1964 to Jerry and Sharon Ledlow. He obtained his Bachelor Degree in astrophysics at the University of

Oklahoma in 1987 and attended the University of New Mexico for his graduate work, obtaining his PhD while studying Galaxy Clusters under Frazer Owen in 1994.

From 1995-1997 Michael held a postdoctoral position with Jack Burns at New Mexico State University where he used various astronomical facilities including the VLA and Apache Point Observatory to study distant galaxies. From 1998-2000 Michael rejoined the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of New Mexico where he was a visiting professor until he moved on to Gemini.

At the Gemini Observatory, Mike shared in the excitement, hard work and many long days and nights associated with bringing on-line a major new astronomical facility and its instrumentation. Following its commissioning he assisted visiting observers, supported and took data for many more remote users via the queue system, and for each he showed the same care and attention to detail evident in his own research to ensure that all got the best possible data.

His research concentrated on the radio and optical properties of galaxy clusters, especially rich Abell clusters such as A2125, on luminous radio galaxies, including the detection of a powerful double radio source in the "wrong sort of galaxy," the spiral system 0313-192, and on EROs (extremely red objects), dusty galaxies barely detectable at optical wavelengths.

Michael thoroughly enjoyed living in Chile and enthusiastically immersed himself in the culture of his surroundings. He and his family were actively involved with the International English Spanish Association in La Serena. He had a wide variety of interests including a wonderfully diverse taste in music and an exceptional talent for home brewing beer.

Mike was one of those rare individuals, enthusiastic and driven by his work at the Observatory as well as by his personal research, and with the skills to deliver in both aspects. His devotion to the Observatory and to research was surpassed only by that for his family. He is survived by his wife Cheryl, their two children Alexandria ("Andrea") and Abigail ("Abi"), three stepdaughters Mandy, Memoree and Misty and his sister Lisa Gay Gilmore.

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