MacArthur Fellows Program

Joseph H. Taylor Jr.

Astrophysicist | Class of December 1981

Princeton, New Jersey
40 at time of award
Published December 1, 1981

About Joseph's Work

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.

Select News Coverage of Joseph H. Taylor Jr.
February 11, 2016
"Q&A with Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Taylor"
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
June 30, 2015
"In Retirement, Nobelist Takes Up Moon Bouncing"
Science News
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
October 23, 1993
"Exotic Pulsar Blazes Trail to Glory"
New Scientist
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
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