Riccardo Giacconi Awarded Nobel Prize For Pioneering Work
In X-Ray Astronomy
Riccardo Giacconi, who shared in Nobel
Prize for Physics in 2002 for his contribution to X-ray
Astronomy. This photo was taken on the occasion of his festschrift in 1997.
More than 100 years ago, the first Nobel Prize in physics
was awarded to Wilhelm Röntgen for his discovery of X-rays.
This week, Riccardo Giacconi was recognized with a share
in the Nobel Prize in physics for his pioneering work in
Giaconni, president of the Associated Universities Inc., in
Washington, and Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy
at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, discovered the first
X-ray stars and the X-ray background in the 1960s and
conceived of and led the implementation of the Uhuru and High
Energy Astronomy Observatory-2 (HEAO-2) X-ray observatories
in the 1970s. With funding from NASA, he also detected
sources of X-rays that most astronomers now consider to
contain black holes.
Giacconi said that receiving the award confirms the
importance of X-ray astronomy. "I think I'm one of the first
to get the Nobel prize for work with NASA, so that's good for
NASA and I think it's also good for the field," he said.
"It's also nice for all the other people who've worked in
this field. I recognize that I was never alone. I'm happy for
me personally, I'm happy for my family, and I'm happy for the
field and for NASA," Giacconi added.
In 1976, Giacconi along with Harvey Tananbaum of the Harvard-
Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.,
submitted a proposal letter to NASA to initiate the study and
design of a large X-ray telescope. In 1977 work began on the
program, which was then known as the Advanced X-ray
Astrophysics Facility and in 1998 renamed the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
"Partnerships with universities and scientists are essential
in our quest to answer the fundamental questions of the
universe," said Dr. Ed Weiler, NASA Associate Administrator
for Space Science, Headquarters, Washington. "Dr. Giacconi's
achievements are a brilliant example of this synergy among
NASA, universities and their community of scientists and
students," he said.
Giacconi is Principal Investigator for the ultradeep survey
with Chandra -- the "Chandra Deep Field South" -- that has
already obtained the deepest X-ray exposures to date with a
million-second observation. He was also the first director of
the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
Giacconi, 71, received half the $1 million prize. Raymond Davis
Jr., 87, of the University of Pennsylvania and Masatoshi Koshiba, 76,
of the University of Tokyo share the other half of the
prize for their research into cosmic neutrinos.