Pioneering Astrophysicist Rashid Sunyaev to Receive 27th Annual Kyoto Prize for Lifetime Achievement in “Basic Sciences”

Dépèche transmise le 24 juin 2011 par Business Wire

Pioneering Astrophysicist Rashid Sunyaev to Receive 27th Annual Kyoto Prize for Lifetime Achievement in “Basic Sciences”

Pioneering Astrophysicist Rashid Sunyaev to Receive 27th Annual Kyoto Prize for Lifetime Achievement in “Basic Sciences”

KYOTO, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The non-profit Inamori Foundation (President: Dr. Kazuo Inamori) today announced that Dr. Rashid Sunyaev will receive its 27th annual Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, which focuses on Earth and Planetary Sciences, Astronomy and Astrophysics for 2011. Dr. Sunyaev, 68, a citizen of both Russia and Germany, will receive the award for developing the theory that fluctuations in cosmic microwave background radiation can be used as a means of exploring the expanding universe, and for his outstanding contributions to the field of high-energy astronomy.

See the announcement webcast in English at www.inamori-f.or.jp today after 3:00pm (Japan time).

Sunyaev currently serves both as director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (www.mpa-garching.mpg.de), and as chief scientist at the Space Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (www.iki.rssi.ru). He is also the Maureen and John Hendricks visiting professor in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study (http://www.ias.edu) in Princeton, New Jersey.

The Works of Dr. Rashid Sunyaev
In a paper co-authored with Dr. Yakov B. Zel’dovich in 1970, Dr. Sunyaev examined the physical process of hydrogen recombination in the hot early universe, subsequently revealing that cosmic acoustic oscillations from the beginning of time can be observed as temperature and density variations in matter in today’s cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR).

Dr. Sunyaev identified the extraordinary possibility of using observations of baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) — oscillations resulting from primordial fluctuations in the early universe that are detectable in the CMBR — for quantitative analysis of cosmological parameters of the expanding universe.

In the early universe, baryonic matter coupled with thermal radiation, creating a state of acoustic oscillation. As the universe expanded and cooled, protons and electrons combined to form neutral hydrogen. The resulting interaction between matter and thermal radiation decreased drastically and the universe, once filled with opaque fog, became transparent. Gravitational instability formed galaxies and their clusters whose high temperatures make them observable using X-rays. Drs. Sunyaev and Zel’dovich predicted that hot electron gas in clusters scatters the CMBR, creating spectral distortions. This phenomenon, known as the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect (SZE), provides a new means of measuring absolute distances of galactic clusters; it is expected to serve as a key principle for precise observational cosmology and the study of galaxies.

Additionally, Dr. Sunyaev has contributed significantly to high-energy astronomy. In 1973, with Dr. Nikolai I. Shakura, Dr. Sunyaev formulated a mechanism that involves matter accreting to black holes and other compact objects to provide quantitative explanations for absorption of high-energy radiation and its spectra. Known as the standard Shakura-Sunyaev model, this theory serves as both a starting point for structural research on celestial objects and as the basis for describing accretion and the energy release mechanism for black holes, protostars and active galactic nuclei. This influential work is among the most often-cited original research in the field of astronomy.

Through his observational work and leadership in high-energy astronomy and satellite projects, Dr. Sunyaev has illuminated the processes underlying hard X-ray and soft γ-ray emissions from various celestial bodies, thereby making continued contributions to the development of high-energy astronomy.

Other 2011 Kyoto Prize Laureates
In addition to Dr. Sunyaev, this year’s Kyoto Prize laureates include:

  • In “Advanced Technology:” Dr. John W. Cahn (citizenship: USA), 83, a materials scientist who established the landmark theory of spinodal decomposition, supporting the development of new alloy materials; now emeritus fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology and affiliate professor at University of Washington.
  • In “Arts and Philosophy:” Mr. Tamasaburo Bando V (citizenship: Japanese), 61, an international theater performer and tate oyama, or leading Kabuki actor specializing in female roles. Tamasaburo is known as a creator of elegant beauty whose artistry crosses many genres of the performing arts.

About the Inamori Foundation and the Kyoto Prize
The Kyoto Prize, Japan’s highest private award for global achievement, honors significant contributions to the betterment of society. Each Kyoto Prize laureate will be presented with a diploma, a 20-karat-gold Kyoto Prize medal, and a cash gift totaling 50 million yen (approximately US$625,000) during a week of ceremonies beginning November 9, 2011, in Kyoto. The laureates will reconvene in San Diego, Calif., March 20-22, 2012, for the eleventh annual Kyoto Prize Symposium.

The non-profit Inamori Foundation was established in 1984 by Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera (NYSE:KYO) and KDDI Corporation. The Kyoto Prize was founded in 1985, in line with Dr. Inamori’s belief that a human being has no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of society, and that the future of humanity can be assured only when there is a balance between our scientific progress and our spiritual depth. The laureates are selected through a strict and impartial process considering candidates recommended from around the world. As of the 26th Kyoto Prize ceremony (November 10, 2010), the Kyoto Prize has been awarded to 84 individuals and one foundation — collectively representing 15 nations. Individual laureates range from scientists, engineers and researchers to philosophers, painters, architects, sculptors, musicians and film directors. The United States has produced the most recipients (34), followed by Japan (14), the United Kingdom (12), and France (8).

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