French Astrophysicist, Andre Brahic, Dies at Age 73

17 May 2016

World renowned French astrophysicist, Andre Brahic, one of the discoverers of Neptune’s rings, died in Paris Sunday (May 15th, 2016) at the age of 73, leaving behind a legacy of research and books.

This beloved author’s publisher, Odile Jacob, who was close to Brahic said;

“He was a brilliant character… extraordinarily warm, profound and authentic, great scholar and also a storyteller, a writer.” 


He was an expert on the solar system and in 1984 launched a program that led to the discovery (with US astronomer William Hubbard) of the rings around the gaseous planet Neptune.

French President Francois Hollande in a statement gushed over Brahic saying;

“{He} knew how to make simple the mysteries of the sky.”

Brahic was also toted as a great teacher “whose books and comments allowed us to voyage through space.”

This great scientists was born into a modest family in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942, Although, his beginnings were humble he was initiated into astrophysics after the was ended by Evry Schatzman (who was considered the father of this discipline in France).

In the 1980s, with the help of NASA’s Voyager and later the US-Europe Cassini unmanned missions, Brahic became a specialist in exploring our solar system. He was also an astrophysicist at the Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA) and a professor at the University of Paris.

However, it was his interest in Saturn and its rings that led him to launch his Neptune research and to divide and name the three outermost rings; Liberte, Fraternite and Egalite. Plus, to commemorate this great man, in 1990, an asteroid, number 3488, was named Brahic in his honor.

But that wasn’t enough for Brahic. He wanted to bring astrophysics to a wider public, so he wrote several books. His last book “Worlds Elsewhere; Are We Alone” was published last year by Odile Jacob.

Brahic will truly be missed for his research and wonderful books, but the legacy he leaves behind will not be soon forgotten.

Want to learn more about Saturn’s rings? Check out this amazing video that gives us a “up close” look at this celestial marvel.