HALE BRADT, Professor of Physics, Emeritus

Professor of Physics, Emeritus

EMAIL: bradt@mit.edu

PHONE: (617) 253-7550

OFFICE: 37-587


Area of Physics:

Compact Objects: X-ray

Research Interests

RXTE, an earth-orbiting X-ray astronomy observatory , studies X-ray emission from black-holes and neutron stars with high statistics so the plasmas in their vicinities can be studied with time resolutions comparable to the dynamical time constants of matter in the deep potential wells. The mission, among other important results, has revealed the presence of accreting X-ray pulsars (neutron stars) with spin periods of a few milliseconds. It has also demonstrated a link between accretion and jet formation in (black-hole) "microquasars". Microquasars are black-hole accretors in the Milky-Way Galaxy which exhibit pronounced radio jets, as do their more massive and distant counterparts, the well known extragalactic quasars. The mission is completing its fifteenth year of productive observations (in Dec. 2010), but will soon come to an end.

Biographical Sketch

Professor Bradt joined the Department of Physics as an Instructor in 1961, was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1963, to Associate Professor in 1968, to Professor in 1972, and became Professor Emeritus in 2001. A music major, he earned his A.B. from Princeton University in 1952 and his Ph.D. in Physics from MIT in 1961. Bradt founded MIT's sounding rocket program in X-ray astronomy in 1967, was a co-Investigator on the MIT SAS-3 mission (launched in 1975), was a co-Principal Investigator on the High-Energy Astronomy Observatory, HEAO-1 (1977). He was Principal Investigator of the All-Sky-Monitor (ASM) instrument on the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE, 1995), which is still operating in 2010. Bradt's work has long been directed toward the determination of X-ray source positions and the follow-up studies of the objects identified. With students and associates, he has carried out studies with RXTE of the unusual neutron-star binary Cir X-1, of gamma-ray bursts, and of the behavior of transient X-ray sources.

Bradt served terms as the Secretary/Treasurer and Chairman of the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in the 1970s. He was awarded the Buechner Teaching Prize of the MIT Physics Department in 1990 and was the 1999 co-recipient of the Rossi Prize of the HEAD/AAS for his role in bringing about the RXTE mission and the results forthcoming from it.

After retirement, Bradt has focused on textbook writing. Astronomy Methods was published by Cambridge University Press in 2004 and  Astrophysics Processes in 2008. Currently (2010), he is editing his father’s letters from the Pacific during World War II.

Selected Publications

  • Astrophysics Processes, Hale Bradt, textbook, Cambridge University Press (2008)
  • Astronomy Methods, Hale Bradt, textbook, Cambridge University Press (2004).
  • Highlights of RXTE studies of compact objects after ~5 years. H. Bradt, R. E. Rothschild, J. H. Swank. In: The Ninth Marcel Grossmann Meeting. Eds. V. G. Gurzadyan, R. T. Jantzen, R. Ruffini. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2002, Part A, p. 694 - 7, astro-ph/0106508.
  • Transient X--Ray Sources Observed with the Rxte All-Sky Monitor after 3.5 Years, H. Bradt, A.M. Levine, R. A. Remillard, D. A. Smith, in Proceedings of the Vulcano May 1999 Workshop on Multifrequency Behaviour of High Energy Cosmic Sources: III, F. Giovannelli and Lola Sabau-Graziati (eds.), Mem SAIt, Vol 71, (2000); astro-ph/0001460 (in press).
  • X 1908+075: An X-ray Binary with a 4.4 day Period, L. Wen, R. A. Remillard, H. V. Bradt, ApJ, in press; astro-ph/9907424 (2000).
  • Localizations of Thirteen Gamma-ray Bursts by the All-Sky Monitor on RXTE, D. A. Smith, A. M. Levine, H. V. Bradt, R. Remillard, J. G. Jernigan, K. C. Hurley, L. Wen, M. Briggs, T. Cline, E. Mazets, S. Golenetskii, D. Frederics, ApJ 526, 683 (1999).
  • X-ray Orbital Modulation of Cygnus X-1, L. Wen, Wei Cui, A.M. Levine, H. V. Bradt, ApJ 525, 968 (1999) "Gamma-ray Burst Positions from the ASM on RXTE", H. V. Bradt & D. A. Smith, Proceedings of "Gamma-Ray Bursts in the Afterglow Era", Rome, 3-6 Nov, 1998; astro-ph/9905271.
  • Scattering and Iron Fluorescence Revealed During Absorption Dips in Circinus X-1, R. E. Shirey, A.M. Levine & H. V. Bradt, ApJ 524, 1048 (1999). "RXTE All-Sky Monitor Localization of SGR 1627-41", D. A. Smith, H. V. Bradt, A.M. Levine, ApJL 519, L147 (1999).
  • Highlights from RXTE after 2.5 Years: Neutron-star Spins at KiloHertz Frequencies, Microquasars and More, H. V. Bradt in Frontier Objects in Astrophysics and Particle Physics, Proceedings of the Vulcano Workshop, Vulcano, Italy, May 1998, eds. F. Giovannelli & G. Mannoccihi, Societa' Italiana di Fisica, Editrice Compositori, Bologna, Italy; astro-ph/9901174.
  • X-ray Timing Explorer Mission. H. V. Bradt, R.E. Rothschild, J. H. Swank, Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series, vol. 97, p. 355-360 (1993).

Last updated on March 4, 2015 12:33 PM