Alumni: Tom Gehrels, 1956
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1956

February 21, 1925 - July 11, 2011


Anton M.J. "Tom" Gehrels was a Dutch-American astronomer, Professor of Planetary Sciences, and Astronomer at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Gehrels was born at Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands on February 21, 1925. During World War II he was, as a teenager, active in the Dutch Resistance. After he escaped to England, he was sent back by parachute as an organizer for Special Operations Executive SOE committing sabotage against the German forces.

After the war, he attended the University of Leiden where he graduated with a degree in physics and astronomy in 1951. He continued his education at the University of Chicago where he obtained his doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics in 1956 under Professor Hamza. In 1960, he moved to the University of Arizona along with Gerard Kuiper where he would remain for the next 50 years.

Gehrels pioneered the first photometric system of asteroids in the 1950s, and wavelength dependence of polarization of stars and planets in the 1960s.

The minor planet 1777 Gehrels was named in his honour.