Eugene Newman Parker (born June 10, 1927) is an American solar astrophysicist who—in the mid-1950s—developed the theory of the supersonic solar wind and predicted the Parker spiral shape of the solar magnetic field in the outer Solar System. In 1987, Parker proposed that the solar corona might be heated by myriad tiny "nanoflares", miniature brightenings resembling solar flares that would occur all over the surface of the Sun.
Eugene Parker in 2018 at the launch of the solar probe that bears his name
|Born||June 10, 1927|
Houghton, Michigan, U.S.
|Alma mater||Michigan State University|
|Known for||Sweet–Parker model|
|Awards||Arctowski Medal (1969)|
George Ellery Hale Prize (1978)
Chapman Medal (1979)
National Medal of Science (1989)
William Bowie Medal (1990)
James Clerk Maxwell Prize (2003)
Kyoto Prize (2003)
Crafoord Prize (2020)
|Institutions||University of Chicago|
Parker spent four years at the University of Utah and has been at the University of Chicago since 1955, where he has held positions in the physics department, the astronomy and astrophysics department, and the Enrico Fermi Institute. Parker was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1967. In 2017, NASA renamed its Solar Probe Plus to Parker Solar Probe in his honor, marking the first time NASA had named a spacecraft after a living person. In 2018, the American Physical Society awarded him the Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research.
Parker received his B.S. degree in physics from Michigan State University in 1948 and Ph.D. from Caltech in 1951. Parker spent four years at the University of Utah and has been at the University of Chicago since 1955, where he has held positions in the physics department, the astronomy and astrophysics department, and the Enrico Fermi Institute. Parker was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1967.
In the mid-1950s, Parker developed the theory on the supersonic solar wind and predicted the Parker spiral shape of the solar magnetic field in the outer Solar System. His theoretical modeling was not immediately accepted by the astronomical community. In fact, when he submitted the results to The Astrophysical Journal, two reviewers rejected it. The editor of the Astrophysical Journal, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, overruled the reviewers and published the paper. His models were resoundingly verified by satellite observations a few years later, especially the 1962 Mariner 2 mission. His work has greatly increased understanding of the solar corona, the solar wind, the magnetic fields of both the Earth and the Sun, and their complex electromagnetic interactions. His books, especially his 1979 Cosmical Magnetic Fields, have been read by generations of investigators. His most recent book includes the effects of magnetic fields of planets, stars, and galaxies on X-ray emissions. In 1987, Parker proposed that the solar corona might be heated by myriad tiny "nanoflares", miniature brightenings resembling solar flares that would occur all over the surface of the Sun.
- 1969 - Arctowski Medal of the National Academy of Sciences 
- 1969 - Henry Norris Russell Lectureship of the American Astronomical Society
- 1978 - George Ellery Hale Prize, American Astronomical Society Solar Physics Division
- 1989 - National Medal of Science 
- 1990 - William Bowie Medal 
- 1992 - Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
- 1997 - Bruce Medal
- 2003 - Kyoto Prize 
- 2003 - James Clerk Maxwell Prize of the American Physical Society. Citation: "For seminal contributions in plasma astrophysics, including predicting the solar wind, explaining the solar dynamo, formulating the theory of magnetic reconnection, and the instability which predicts the escape of the magnetic fields from the galaxy."
- 2010 - Member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
- 2017 - NASA renamed its Solar Probe Plus to Parker Solar Probe after Parker, and according to a NASA official this was the first time that a space vessel was named after a living person. Parker was present at its August 12, 2018 launch.
- 2018 - Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research of the American Physical Society. Citation: "For fundamental contributions to space physics, plasma physics, solar physics and astrophysics for over 60 years."
- 2020 - Crafoord Prize in Astronomy 
- Cosmical Magnetic Fields: Their Origin and their Activity, 1979, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-851290-5.
- Spontaneous Current Sheets in Magnetic Fields: With Applications to Stellar X-rays, 1994, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507371-3.
- Conversations on Electric and Magnetic Fields in the Cosmos, 2007, Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-12841-2.
- Tatarewicz, Joseph N. "Eugene N. Parker (1912– )". Honors program. American Geophysical Union. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- Tenn, Joseph S. "Eugene Newman Parker: 1997 Bruce Medalist". Sonoma State University. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- N. Davis (2017-05-31). "Nasa's hotly anticipated solar mission renamed to honour astrophysicist Eugene Parker". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- "Award honors Prof. Eugene Parker's lifetime of physics research". UChicago News. 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
- Roach, John. "Astrophysicist Recognized for Discovery of Solar Wind". National Geographic News. National Geographic. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
- Chang, Kenneth (August 10, 2018). "NASA's Parker Solar Probe Is Named for Him. 60 Years Ago, No One Believed His Ideas About the Sun". New York Times.
After Mariner 2, 'everyone agreed the solar wind existed,' Dr. Parker said.
- "Arctowski Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "Eugene N. Parker". The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details. National Science Foundation. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "Citation: Eugene Newman Parker". Kyoto Prize. Inamori Foundation. Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- Roach, John (August 27, 2003). "Astrophysicist Recognized for Discovery of Solar Wind". National Geographic News. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "2003 James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics Recipient". Prizes, Awards and Fellowships. American Physical Society. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "Gruppe 2: Fysikkfag (herunder astronomi, fysikk og geofysikk)" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- "NASA Renames Solar Probe Mission to Honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker". NASA. 31 May 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- Crafoord Prize 2020