Professor Ken Pounds CBE FRS
Pioneer in the new science of X-ray Astronomy
Ken Pounds came to Leicester from UCL in 1960 with a three-year Royal Society grant to study X-radiation from the sun and other stellar sources – although none were known then.
A team of space enthusiasts was quickly established. Access to Skylark rocket launches from Woomera and the small Ariel satellite allowed a rapid re-focus on several remarkably bright sources in the night sky. Ariel 5 (1974-80) detected 296 such cosmic X-ray sources, including stellar black hole A0620-00.
By then a Fellow of the Royal Society, Pounds was lead advocate for the first European X-ray mission, EXOSAT (1983-86), and UK Project Scientist for the German Rosat (1990-96) and Japanese Ginga (1987-90) satellites.
Returning to research in 1998 after a four-year secondment as chief executive of a new research council, he used X-ray spectra to show that, when overfed, massive black holes in galaxy nuclei eject excess matter as a powerful wind, in turn limiting star formation in the host galaxy.