A UC astrophysicist has been awarded the prestigious $1 million Shaw Prize in Astronomy for his research on the formation of stars, planetary systems and spiral galaxies.

Frank H. Shu, a UCSD professor, will be formally presented with the prize – sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize of the East” – for his contributions to the field of theoretical astronomy at a ceremony on Oct. 7.

The Shaw Prize, established by Hong Kong philanthropist Sir Run Run Shaw, grants annual prizes in astronomy, life science, medicine and mathematical sciences for researchers who have made significant lifetime contributions to their field.

According to George Fuller, director of the UCSD Center for Astronomy & Space Science, Shu has been one of the world’s foremost experts on star formation for decades.

“His work on the origin of stars has spanned 30 years,” Fuller said.

Shu’s research has produced widely held theories that explain how stars form from collapsing molecular clouds and magnetized disks as well as how planets are created from materials created by star system jets and outflows.

Shu received his bachelor’s degree in physics from MIT in 1963 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in astronomy five years later. He joined UCSD as a distinguished professor of physics in 2006, and he is also a University Professor, which is a UC system-wide honor for outstanding educators.

Fuller said the UCSD Dept. of Physics is ecstatic that Shu was awarded the Shaw Prize.

“We are very excited for him,” Fuller said. “[The Shaw Prize] is a very prestigious award. We are all very happy for him.”