Wilhelm Anderson

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Wilhelm Anderson
Wilhelm Anderson.jpg
Wilhelm Anderson in Tartu
Born Wilhelm Robert Karl Anderson
(1880-10-28)October 28, 1880
Minsk, Russian Empire
Died March 26, 1940(1940-03-26) (aged 59)
Nationality Estonian (Baltic German)
Alma mater
Known for
Scientific career

Wilhelm Robert Karl Anderson (Belarusian: Вільгельм Роберт Карл Андэрсан; 28 October [O.S. 16 October] 1880 – 26 March 1940) was a German-Estonian astrophysicist who studied the physical structure of the stars.


Wilhelm Anderson was born in Minsk (now in Belarus) into an ethnic German family. His younger brothers were the well known mathematician Oskar Anderson (1887-1960) and the folklorist Walter Anderson (1885-1962). Anderson spent some of his youth in Kazan, where his father Nikolai Anderson (1845-1905) was a university professor for Finno-Ugric languages.

He studied at the University of Kazan, where he graduated from the department of mathematics and science in 1909. Between 1910 and 1920, he worked as a physics teacher first in Samara and then from 1918 in Minsk. Together with his brother Walter Anderson, he moved to Tartu (Estonia) in 1920. At the University of Tartu, he first gained a Masters degree in Astronomy in 1923 and then a Doctorate in 1927. In 1934 he became a habilitation candidate at the university, and in 1936 he received an assistant professorship at the University of Tartu. Like the majority of Baltic Germans, he was resettled to Germany in late 1939, where he died in the Sanatorium of Meseritz-Obrawalde, shortly thereafter.

Anderson is probably best known for his work on the mass limit for white dwarf stars (1929, Tartu), which has since become known as the Chandrasekhar Limit. The Stoner-Anderson Equation of state, a result of Anderson's correspondence with Edmund Stoner, is named after him.

Work (selection)[edit]

  • Über die Existenzmöglichkeit von kosmischem Staube in der Sonnenkorona. Zeitschrift für Physik 28, Berlin, 1924.
  • Über die Grenzdichte der Materie und der Energie. Zeitschrift für Physik 56, Berlin, 1929.

See also[edit]