Joseph Taylor uses radio astronomy to study various problems in astrophysics and gravitational physics.
Since pulsars were discovered in 1968, Taylor has studied these dense, rapidly spinning remnants of supernovae (explosions of massive stars). Together with his students and colleagues, he has discovered several hundred pulsars, including many that move in orbit around other stars, known as binary pulsars. Studies of these binary pulsars have provided unique astrophysical clues regarding the origin and evolution of neutron stars, as well as the first conclusive evidence of the existence of gravitational radiation. Taylor is co-author of the book Pulsars (1977).
Taylor was a research fellow at Harvard University (1968-69), when he devised a computer algorithm that allowed him to discover the fifth known pulsar. He was a professor of astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1969-1980) when he and colleagues built a large radio telescope for observing pulsars and, in 1974, discovered the first known pulsar in a binary system. He is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1980 and served as dean of the faculty (1997-2003).
Taylor received a B.A. (1963) from Haverford College and a Ph.D. (1968) from Harvard University.
Last updated January 1, 2005.