Monday, September 14, 2020
The Astronomy Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is saddened to report the passing of retired Full Professor William A. (Bill) Dent. Professor Dent was a key founder of the observational aspect of the Astronomy Program at UMass Amherst. As a graduate student at the University of Michigan Bill had made the amazing discovery that the brightness of what were called quasi-stellar radio sources (quasars) varied with time. This required that the physical sizes of these objects be vastly smaller than had been postulated; many years later we have learned that quasars contain supermassive black holes, often with masses of billions of times the mass of our Sun.
Bill Dent with students in 1969