The Bruce Medalists

 

photo Photo 1961, courtesy Sky & Telescope
Viktor Amazaspovich Ambartsumian
18 September 1908 1960 Bruce Medalist 12 August 1996

Viktor Ambartsumian was born in then-Soviet Georgia and educated at the University of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg State University. He worked at the Pulkovo Observatory, the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO), which he founded and directed, Erevan University, and the Armenian Academy of Sciences, which he served as president from 1947 to 1993. While at Pulkovo he also taught at the University of Leningrad, where he was appointed professor at age 26, and wrote the first Russian textbook on theoretical astrophysics. Most of his research was devoted to invariance principles applied to the theory of radiative transfer, inverse problems of astrophysics, and the empirical approach to the problems of the origin and evolution of stars and galaxies. He was first to suggest that T Tauri stars are very young and to propose that nearby stellar associations are expanding. He also showed that evolutionary processes such as mass loss are occurring in galaxies. He worked on interstellar matter, showing that it is in clouds, radio galaxies, and active galactic nuclei. He was the founding editor-in-chief (1964-87) of Astrofizika, which became the leading astronomy publication in the Soviet Union. He served as president of the International Astronomical Union, and he hosted conferences on the search for extraterrestrial civilizations. Note: His first name is sometimes spelled Victor, and his last name Ambartsumyan or Ambarzumyan. The only correct spelling is in the Armenian alphabet.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Mayall, N.U., PASP 72, 73-75 (1960).

Other awards
French Academy of Sciences, Janssen Medal, 1956.
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1960, presented by R.V. Redman, QJRAS 1, 23-25 (1960).

Some offices held
International Astronomical Union, President, 1961-64.

Biographical materials
“V.A. Ambartsumian—a Life in Science,” Astrophysics 51, 280-93 (2008).
“Victor Amazasp Ambartsumian (1908-1996),” in Y. Terzian, D. Weedman, & E. Khachikian, eds., Activity in Galaxies and Related Phenomena, Proceedings of IAU Syposium 194, held 17-21 Aug. 1998, in Yerevan, Armenia (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1999), xiii.
Biography at the BAO
Ambartsumian, Viktor A., “On Some Trends in the Development of Astrophysics,” Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics 18, 1-13 (1980).
Arzumanyan, Ashot, Envoy of the stars: Academician Victor Ambartsumyan [translated from the Russian by Cynthia Carlile] (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1987).
Chandrasekhar, S., “To Victor Ambartsumian on his 80th birthday,” Astrofizika 18, (1989); reproduced in Astrophysics 18, 3-4 (1989).
The Editorial Board of the Journal Astrofizika, “V.A. Ambartsumian—A Life in Science,” Astrofizika 51, 343-62 (2008); English translation in Astrophysics 51, 280-93 (2008).
Editorial Board and Editorial Council, “Viktor Amazaspovich Ambartsumian (on his 85th Birthday),” Astrofizika 36, 623-26 (1993); English translation in Astrophysics 36, 368-69 (1996).
HeyHo blogspot

Kalloghlian, A.T., “On the 90th birthday of Academician V. A. Ambartsumian, founder of the journal Astrophysics, at Symposium No. 194 of the International Astronomical Union,” Astrofizika 41, 495-98 (1998); English translation in Astrophysics 41, 325-27 (1998).
McCutcheon, Robert A., “The Early Career of Viktor Amazapovich Ambartsumian: an Interview (Erevan, Oct. 1987),” Astronomy Quarterly 7, 3, 143-176 (1990).
Mirzoian, L.V., Viktor Ambartsumian (Izd-vo “Aiastan,” Erevan, Armenia, 1985).
Pecker, Jean-Claude, “Victor Ambartsumian and the IAU” Astrofizika 29, 1, 409 (1989).
Plicht, Chris, Ambartsumian, Viktor A..
Viktor Ambartsumian International Prize

Obituaries
Blaauw, Adriaan, Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy, 18, 1-2 (1997).
Israelian, Garik, BAAS 29, 1466-67 (1997).
Lynden-Bell, Donald & V. Gurzadian, Astronomy and Geophysics 38, 2, 37 (1997).
Lynden-Bell, Donald & V. Gurzadian, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 44, 21-34 (1998).
Physics World 9, 54 (Oct 1996).
Petrosian, Artashes R., Haik A. Harutyunian, & Areg M. Mickaelian, Physics Today 50, 6, 106 (June 1997).
Unknown, Astrofizika 39, 517-22 (1996); English translation in Astrophysics 39, 307-09 (1996).
Woszczyk, A., “In memoriam - Viktor A. Ambartsumyan (1908 - 1996),” Postepy Astron. 45, 34-35 (1997). [in Polish]

Portraits
AIP Center for History of Physics
HeyHo blogspot (several)

Named after him
Minor Planet #1905 Ambartsumian
Viktor Ambartsumian International Prize for outstanding contributions to astrophysics

More references

The Bruce Medalists


Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to
joe.tenn@sonoma.edu
JST
2015-10-25