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Jörn Erhard Wink (1942 - 2000)


Jörn Wink died on August 5, 2000, at age 58, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). An astronomer of the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, delegated to IRAM, Grenoble, he is survived by his wife Adelheid and their two daughters, Jutta and Dagmar.

Jörn Wink was born in Berlin in 1942. As a consequence of the war, his family was obliged to move to different places several times in his childhood. Later on, he had the good fortune to attend the University of Münster, where he did a master's thesis in applied mathematics and was encouraged by Prof. Hans Strassl to work in radio astronomy. Dr. Peter Mezger arranged for a stipend from the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft so that Jörn Wink could do part of his doctoral thesis in 1969-70 at the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, with the three-element interferometer in Green Bank, West Virginia.

The results of these observations appeared in several publications and in Wink's doctoral thesis, ``Radio-astronomical Investigations of the Structures of Selected H II regions with the Aperture Synthesis Technique". In fact, this study included some of the earliest synthesis maps of giant H II regions, made with the aim of finding the centers of star formation. To reduce the data, Wink had developed a precursor of the CLEAN algorithm for restoring interferometer images.

After his return from the USA, Jörn Wink worked from 1971 to 1987 at the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie in Bonn. His activity during this period was mainly centered on investigations with the Effelsberg 100m telescope, most notably on continuum and radio recombination line studies of galactic H II regions, with a large number of his colleagues, and most frequently with Peter Mezger. During this time, he acquired his reputation as a highly valuable specialist in testing the performance of the 100m telescope as new bands were opened up at ever higher frequencies. Due to his expertise at Effelsberg, he was a natural choice to participate in the commissioning of the IRAM 30m telescope on Pico Veleta, near Granada, Spain, during 1984 - 85. In the period shortly thereafter, his aid was greatly appreciated in some of the first observations with the MPIfR bolometer on the 30m telescope.

In 1987, because of Jörn Wink's previous experience in interferometry, he was delegated from the MPIfR to work at the Institut de Radio Astronomie Millimétrique (IRAM), in Grenoble, France, which was about to enter the commissioning and testing phase of the first two 15m antennas of its interferometer on Plateau de Bure, France. During this commissioning period, Jörn Wink was a member of the team who found the first fringes with two antennas of the Plateau de Bure interferometer on the night of 14 December 1988.

The scientific interests of Jörn Wink were wide-ranging, and his very friendly personality attracted many other astronomers to include him as a highly valued partner in their observing groups. At Effelsberg, he collaborated on projects on radio recombination lines of hydrogen and helium in galactic H II regions and their implications for element and isotope gradients in the Galaxy. With the arrival of the 30m telescope, he continued his studies of galactic H II regions and molecular clouds, and worked with Peter Mezger and Robert Zylka in an extended series of observations of the millimeter continuum emission from the galactic center region.

After the commissioning of the IRAM interferometer, Jörn Wink was fascinated by the application of the new instruments in the millimeter range to many different domains of astronomy. More than half of his 70 scientific publications were published in this period (the 1990's). He worked with I.F. Mirabel on the galactic micro-quasars 1740.7-2942 and GRS 1915+105, as well as on CO in interacting galaxies, he cooperated with several colleagues in observations of high-redshift objects, including a study of CO in the quasar 3C 48, and he participated in several VLBI experiments, including the first successful VLBI experiment between Pico Veleta and Plateau de Bure at 1.4 mm.

His main interest during the late 1990's, however, was the observation of comets, and in particular the detection of molecules and dust from comets at millimeter wavelengths. He was co-author on numerous papers dealing with detections of mm lines and continuum from comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp. Of these studies, he considered his main achievements in the last years of his scientific career to be the first interferometer detection of the radio continuum emission from any comet, namely Hale-Bopp, with the IRAM interferometer, and the first direct radio size measurement of any cometary nucleus.

Jörn Wink remained an enthusiastic scientist throughout his life, and even during his terrible illness, kept up an active interest in developments at both of the IRAM telescopes. He was a colleague who was highly valued and respected because of his high standards of professional correctness, his meticulous approach to observations and data reduction, and above all, because of his great generosity in helping other astronomers, young and old, in the best ways of observing, analysing data, and understanding their observations. He will be sorely missed in both IRAM and in the wider millimeter astronomy community.


next up previous
Next: News from the 30m Up: IRAM Newsletter 46 (December 2000) Previous: Personnel Changes