King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) recognizes excellence in 5 categories: Service to Islam, Islamic Studies, Arabic Language & Literature, Medicine, and Science, since 1979

Professor Rashid A. Sunyaev

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Topic: Physics


Nationality: Russia

2009-Rashid-Alievich-Sunyaev-(S)Professor Rashid Allevich Sunyaev is a prominent Russian physicist whose outstanding contributions to high energy astrophysics and cosmology profoundly impacted both fields and placed him at the forefront of contemporary astrophysicists. Born in Tashkent, Usbekistan on March 1, 1943, Professor Sunyaev graduated from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1966 and received his Candidate of Sciences (PhD equivalent) and Doctor of Sciences degrees from Moscow University in 1968 and 1973, respectively. Between 1968-1974, he served as a scientific researcher at the Institute of Applied Mathematics and subsequently as Head of the Laboratory of Theoretical Astrophysics at the Space Research Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences in Moscow. He became full professor at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology from 1975-2001 and Head of the High Energy Astrophysics Department of the Space Research Institute in Moscow from 1982-2002. He is currently Director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and Chief Scientist at the Russian Space Research Institute He is also Russia’s principal scientific investigator of the International Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) of the European Space Agency. For three years beginning 2010-2011, Sunyaev will also hold the position of the Maureen and John Hendricks Visiting Professor in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Professor Sunyaev’s fundamental contributions to the advancement of cosmology and astrophysics during the past thirty years cannot be over-emphasized. Among his most distinguished contributions are: his predictions of acoustic peaks in the cosmic microwave background angular distribution, and the development of both the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect (S-Z effect) on clusters of galaxy and the theory of disk accretion (Standard Shakura-Sunyaev disk) and observational appearance of black holes in binary systems and active galactic nuclei. These and several other achievements by Sunyaev drove theoretical developments to new frontiers and led to the generation of powerful and widely used tools to study structures in the universe. Sunyaev also made significant contributions to space science. He led the team that built the X-ray observatory on Mir space station and the GRANAT orbiting X-ray observatory and is currently working with his team in preparing the world’s first astronomical X-ray satellite and on other projects related to the Plank Mission of the European Space Agency.

Professor Sunyaev’s outstanding accomplishments were recognized by numerous honors and awards. He is a Fellow of the US National Academy of Science, the Russian Academy of Science and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and an honorary member of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan Academies of Sciences. He is also a member of the International Astronomical Union and former vice-president of its space research committee, member and former vice-president of the European Astronomical Society, member of the American Physical Society, international member of the American Philosophical Society and foreign fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. In addition, Professor Sunyaev held numerous visiting and honorary professorships, Lectureships and visiting scientist/scholar positions at leading universities including Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, University of California at Berkley, University of Virginia, Harvard-Smithonian Center for Astrophysics, Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University, California Institute of Technology, Cambridge University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ludwig-Maxmillian University, Leiden University, Toronto University and Bose National Center for Basic Sciences in Calcutta.

Apart from the King Faisal International Prize for Science, Professor Sunyaev was recognized by several prestigious awards including Bruno Rossi Prize, Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Heinemann Prize for Astrophysics of the American Physical Society, Gruber Prize, Alexander Friedman Prize by the Russian Academy of Sciences, Bruce Medal, Karl Schwarzschild Medal of the German Astronomical Society and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society of the UK in cosmology. He published over 300 papers, some of which stand out among the most highly cited publications in astrophysics.

Professor Sunyaev, has been awarded the prize in recognition of his pioneering and fundamental contributions to astrophysics and cosmology. His theoretical work on the cosmic background radiation laid the foundation for the observational exploration of the structure of galaxies and the universe. His work on black holes and binary stars was critical in advancing the field of x-ray astronomy.

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