Observational astronomer, astrophysicist, University Professor Emeritus (physics) and Research Professor, University of California, San Diego, USA.
Margaret Burbidge's earliest research work concerned chemical abundance in stars of various types, and culminated in the now classic work by Burbidge, Burbidge, Fowler, and Hoyle (familiarly known as B2FH) on Synthesis of the Elements in Stars.
A second major direction of Margaret Burbidge's research concerns the internal dynamics and masses of galaxies. Starting in the early 1960's with observations made at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas (then jointly operated by the Universities of Chicago and Texas), she obtained spectra of spiral galaxies from which were measured the velocities of the ionized gas clouds in their nuclei and disks. She, in collaboration with Geoff Burbidge and with Kevin Prendergast, ultimately deduced rotational properties and masses for 50 or so spiral galaxies. By 1970 most of the knowledge of galaxy dynamics came from studies by Burbidge and colleagues, and caused at least one scientist to thank the Burbidges in print for "several pounds of reprints" on internal motions in galaxies. Once again Burbidge had pioneered a direction that developed into a fruitful and decisive branch of contemporary astronomy.
For the past 15 years, Burbidge has continued her observational research programs at the Lick Observatory of the University of California, in collaboration with students, fellows, and colleagues worldwide. Redshifts of quasars, absorption lines in quasars, and the distribution of quasars in the universe, all questions at the frontier of our knowledge, occupy her current research interest.
Helen Warner Prize, American Astronomical Society with Geoffrey Burbidge 1959
Fellow, Royal Society of London 1964 Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1970
Elected to National Academy of Sciences 1978
President, American Astronomical Society 1976-78
Bruce Medal, Astronomical Society Pacific 1982
National Medal of Science 1984
Russell Prize 1984
Albert Einstein World Award of Science Medal 1988
"The Rotation, Mass Distribution and Mass of NGC 5055," Astrophys. J 131:243 (1960)
"The Masses of Galaxies", in Galaxies and the Universe, Vol IX of Stars and Stellar Systems, U. Chicago Press, 1975, with G. Burbidge.
"Redshift of OQ 172" Nature 243:336 (1973), with Wampler, Robinson, Baldwin.
"Operation of the Faint Object Spectrograph," Proc. SPIE 445:410 (1984), with Harms, Beaver, et al.
"Adventure into Space", Science 221:421 (1983)
"Quasi-Stellar Objects", San Fransisco, 1967, with G. Burbidge, W.H.Freeman
"Observations of QSOs which are Critical for Cosmology", in "The Universe at Large: Key Issues in Astronomy and Cosmology," ed. Guido Munch, Antonio Mampaso, Francisco Sanchez, Cambridge U. Press, 1997.