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2003 Gruber Cosmology Prize Press Release

Rashid Alievich Sunyaev Headshot
Rashid Alievich Sunyaev

Rashid Alievich Sunyaev, Pioneer of X-ray Astronomy, Wins International Cosmology Prize

Peter Gruber Foundation Honors Pioneering Astronomer

St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. July 2003-- Leading Russian astrophysicist Rashid Alievich Sunyaev, a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy, was selected by an international panel of experts to receive the 2003 Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation.

The Foundation annually presents its gold medal and a $150,000 unrestricted cash award to an outstanding scientist who has made ground-breaking contributions in the field of cosmology. This year's award was presented July 15 to Professor Sunyaev at the 25th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Sydney, Australia.Click here to see photographs of the dinner honoring Professor Sunyaev.

The official citation reads:

"The Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation is hereby proudly presented to Professor Rashid Sunyaev, Director, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Astrophysik, Garching, Germany, for his pioneering studies on the nature of the cosmic microwave background and its interaction with intervening matter.

Hailing from the former Asian Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan, Sunyaev became one of the most important and prolific members of the Moscow group that pioneered Relativistic Astrophysics. Together with its illustrious leader Zeldovich, he studied the relic radiation from the Big Bang leading to early tests of cosmological models that are still valid and have provided impetus to one of the most active areas of observational cosmology.

Through continuing collaborations around the globe, Sunyaev remains among the most effective scientific bridges between East and West."

Sunyaev's contributions have been wide-ranging. He co-authored a series of landmark papers that laid the foundations for understanding fluctuations in microwave background radiation and thus advanced ongoing studies about the conditions in the early universe. Together with Yakov B. Zeldovich, he was the first to describe the apparent cooling of radiation as it passes through hot gas, a process now known as the Sunyaev-Zeldovich Effect.

In another collaboration in the early 1970s, with Nikolai Ivanovich Shakura, he helped establish the principles governing current studies of key phenomena of basic nuclei in the Milky Way. More recently, Sunyvaev led the team that built and operated the Kvant X-ray observatory for the MIR space station and the GRANAT orbiting X-ray observatory. He continues to be a leader in the area of X-ray astronomy.

Born in 1943 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Sunyaev was educated at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Moscow University. He worked at the Institute of Applied Mathematics in the Soviet Union and was head of the High Energy Astrophysics Department at the Space Research Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Since 1996, he has been a director of the Max-Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany. He also maintains affiliation with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Acdemy of Sciences in Moscow. He is a popular speaker on the international circuit and is recognized as an inspiring teacher.

"We are extremely pleased to honor the work of Professor Sunyaev and to pay tribute to the Russian school of astrophysical cosmology," said Peter Gruber, chairman of the Peter Gruber Foundation. "It is through international efforts that the whole of humanity is benefited."

The Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation is one of the premiere international prizes in the field. Last year's prizewinner was Dr. Vera Rubin, an observational astronomer renowned for her study of how galaxies revolve within dark matter. The recipient in 2001 was Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal of the United Kingdom and Royal Society Research Professor at Cambridge University. Recipients of the Cosmology Prize in 2000 were Allan R. Sandage, Staff Astronomer Emeritus, The Observatories (Pasadena, California) Carnegie Institution of Washington, and Phillip J.E. Peebles, the Albert Einstein Professor of Physics at Princeton University.

A distinguished Advisory Board selected the Cosmology Prize recipient for 2003 after a worldwide solicitation of candidates. Current members of the Advisory Board are: Professor V. Radhakrishnan of the Raman Research Institute; Professor Lodewijk Woltjer of France's St. Michel l'Observatoire; Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu of Istanbul's Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA); Professor Virginia Trimble of the University of Maryland and the University of California at Irvine; Dr. Katsuhiko Sato, Dean of the School of Science at the University of Tokyo; Professor John Ball of the Mathematical Institute, Oxford; and Professor Robert Williams, Distinguished Research Scholar at the Space Telescope Science Institute in the U.S.

Dr. George V. Coyne of The Vatican Observatory, serves as an advisor to the Foundation on the Cosmology Prize.

Affiliation with International Astronomical Union

In 2000, the Peter Gruber Foundation and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced an agreement by which the IAU provides its expertise and contacts with professional astronomers worldwide for the nomination and selection of Cosmology Prize winners. Under the agreement, the Peter Gruber Foundation also funds a fellowship program for young astronomers, with the aim of promoting the continued recruitment of new talent into the field.

The International Astronomical Union, founded in 1919, organizes professional astronomers worldwide. Its current membership includes more than 8,000 individual astronomers from more than 70 countries. The IAU maintains a large program of international scientific, educational, and standardizing and coordinating activities.

The Peter Gruber Foundation
The Peter Gruber Foundation was founded in 1993 and established a record of charitable giving principally in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it is located. In recent years the Foundation has expanded its philanthropic focus to the creation and awarding of a series of international awards recognizing discoveries and achievements that produce fundamental shifts in human knowledge and culture.