In Memoriam: Jeffrey McClintock

Jeff McClintock represented Smithsonian on the GMTO Board of Directors from 2010-2013. He was a great supporter of the GMT project and will be missed.

Text and image below courtesy of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

Jeff McClintock

On November 8, 2017, the CfA community lost Jeff McClintock, a wonderful friend, colleague, and an unparalleled expert on all things related to stellar size black holes in binary systems. He was 75.

Jeff was raised in Port Orchard, Wash., where he developed his lifelong passion for astrophysics. He built his first of several telescopes at 11 years old and at 13, made frequent solo visits to learn about astronomy from a local amateur astronomer. After majoring in physics at Stanford University, Jeff earned his PhD in physics from MIT, where he worked until 1985, when he was offered a position at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

In his early career, Jeff worked on Galactic X-ray sources, generally with Small Astronomy Satellite-3 and the Einstein Observatory, X-ray observatories that were launched in the 1970s. At CfA, Jeff began focusing on black hole binaries and he became the authority on both X-ray and optical studies of stellar mass black holes. Jeff was the co-author of two influential Annual Review articles with MIT colleagues. His most recent Annual Review (2006), “X-ray Properties of Black-Hole Binaries” with Ron Remillard, was cited more than 1000 times and almost 100 times in 2017. He was generally acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost observer of stellar-mass black holes; he has discovered approximately two thirds of the known low-mass black hole systems, including the first.

In 2009, he accepted the Bruno Rossi Prize at a ceremony in Washington DC. More recently, Jeff was instrumental in the origin of the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023.

Jeff is survived by his son, Dana, Dana’s wife, and their two children, and his brother, Robert.