Prof. Tan LU, an astrophysicist, was born on February 23, 1932, in Changshu County, Jiangsu Province. In 1957 he graduated from Department of Physics, Peking University. From May 1978 to July 2003, he worked (as a professor since 1981) in Department of Astronomy, Nanjing University and then he became a research professor of Purple Mountain Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences (shortly CAS) since 2003. In November 2003 he was elected to be an academician of CAS.
From 1978 to 1993, he was elected successively to be a representative of the 5th to 7th National People's Congress of China. In 1982 he became an IAU member. He was a member of the 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th Council and chairman of the 4th and 8th Commission of High Energy Astrophysics of Chinese Astronomical Society. Since 2004, he has been successively elected to be the chairman of the 7th and 8th Council of the Branch of Gravitation and Relativistic Astrophysics of Chinese Physical Society.
Prof. Lu’s scientific research work can be divided into two stages. Before 1978, he collaborated with Prof. Luo Liaofu of Inner Mongolia University via more than 2800 letters in the fields of theoretical particle physics, with some tens of papers on weak interaction and hadron structure published. After 1978, his research work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundations of China, concentrating on high energy astrophysics, compact stars and cosmology, and this is combined with educational work.
In 1984, he and his student Q.D. Wang first studied and showed that the non-leptonic weak processes within the quark matter core of a neutron star can strongly damp away its radial stellar vibrations in less than 1 second. This means that the bulk viscosity of strange quark matter should be much stronger than the normal neutron matter by several orders of magnitude.
In 1994 he and his students D.M. Wei and L.M. Song introduced a new concept of “generation order parameter” to describe the cascade processes for a pulsar. Gamma-ray pulsars are usually those with such large parameters. Thus this parameter can be used to characterize a pulsar for its gamma-ray emission.
The gamma-ray burst (GRB) is his main research field. Soon after the discovery of the afterglows of GRBs by the Satellite BeppoSAX in 1997, Prof. Lu and his students (Z.G. Dai, D.M. Wei, Y.F. Huang, X.Y. Wang) concentrated their research on the afterglow physics. In 1998 and 1999 they discovered two kinds of environments (namely, stellar-wind medium and compact medium) of GRBs.They are obviously different from the interstellar medium according to the standard model. Both clearly show that the GRBs should originate from collapsing massive stars. This view has been confirmed in 2003 by the discovery of the clear association of SN2003dh with GRB030329 .
The standard model of GRBs was originally based on ultra-relativistically expanding fire ball. Prof. Lu and his group found in 1998 that the fire ball should soon slow down to be non-relativistic, and proposed in 1999 a unified model which could describe its whole process from the early ultra-relativistic to late non-relativistic expansion.
They also found as early as in 1998 that the inner engine of some GRBs could still be active for a relatively long period even well after the prompt gamma-ray bursting duration.
He has published more than 280 papers, which have been cited more than 1000 times by international astronomers and astrophysicists. He was awarded the 3-class National Natural Science Prize(1987), the Special Subsidy of Government issued by the State Council of China (1992), the 1-class prize for Scientific and Technological Progress by the Ministry of Education (1996), the Yuzhe Zhang Prize by Chinese Astronomical Society (1998/1999), the 2 -class National Natural Science Prize(2003), the 2-class National Prize for Scientific and Technological Progress (2007). In 2008, he was also awarded the Prize for Astronomy for Scientific and Technological Progress by the Selection Board of Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation.
He has supervised 11 Ph.D. students, most of them have now been very excellent: 5 being awarded the National Scientific Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, 3─ the Fund for the Plan for Supporting 100 Scholars in Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1─ the Prize for Chinese Young Scientist, 1─ the Prize of Science and Technology for Chinese Young Scholars, 2─ the Prize for National Excellent Ph. D. Theses, 2 Chairing their Distinguished Research Groups, 3 Chairing their Innovative Research Groups. In 2008 Prof. Lu was awarded the title of the Teacher with Distinguished Contribution by the Graduate School of CAS.