ⓘ Rashid Sunyaev

Rashid Sunyaev

ⓘ Rashid Sunyaev

Rashid Alievich Sunyaev is a Soviet and Russian astrophysicist of Tatar descent. He was educated at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He became a professor at MIPT in 1974. Sunyaev was the head of the High Energy Astrophysics Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and has been chief scientist of the Academys Space Research Institute since 1992. He has also been a director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany since 1996, and Maureen and John Hendricks Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton since 2010.


1. Works

Sunyaev and Yakov B. Zeldovich developed the theory for the evolution of density fluctuations in the early universe. They predicted the pattern of acoustic fluctuations that have been clearly seen by WMAP and other CMB experiments in the microwave sky and in the large-scale distribution of galaxies. Sunyaev and Zeldovich stated in their 1970 paper, "A detailed investigation of the spectrum of fluctuations may, in principle, lead to an understanding of the nature of initial density perturbations since a distinct periodic dependence of the spectral density of perturbations on wavelength mass is peculiar to adiabatic perturbations." CMB experiments have now seen this distinctive scale in temperature and polarization measurements. Large-scale structure observations have seen this scale in galaxy clustering measurements.

With Yakov B. Zeldovich, at the Moscow Institute of Applied Mathematics, he proposed what is known as the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect, which is due to electrons associated with gas in galaxy clusters scattering the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Sunyaev and Nikolay I. Shakura developed a model of accretion onto black holes, from a disk, and he has proposed a signature for X-radiation from matter spiraling into a black hole. He has collaborated in important studies of the early universe, including the recombination of hydrogen and the formation of the cosmic microwave background radiation. He led the team which operated the X-ray observatory attached to the Kvant-1 module of the Mir space station and also the GRANAT orbiting X-ray observatory. Kvant made the first detection of X-rays from a supernova in 1987. His team is currently preparing the Spectrum-X-Gamma International Astrophysical Project and is working with INTEGRAL spacecraft data. At Garching he is working in the fields of theoretical high energy astrophysics and physical cosmology and participates in the data interpretation of the ESA Planck spacecraft mission.


2. Honors and awards

  • Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1984
  • Heineman Prize in 2003 for outstanding work in astrophysics
  • Einstein Professorship 2014 Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Bruno Rossi Prize in 1988 for his contributions to understanding cosmic X-ray sources, especially the structure of accretion disks around black holes, the X-ray spectra of compact objects, and the Mir-based discovery of hard X-ray emission from supernovae 1987A
  • Foreign Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2004
  • Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics from the Franklin Institute 2012
  • Foreign Associate of USA National Academy of Sciences since 1991
  • Henry Norris Russell Lectureship in 2008
  • International Member of the American Philosophical Society since 2007
  • State Prize of Russian Federation in 2000 for research of Black Holes and Neutron stars with GRANAT X-ray and gamma-ray astrophysical observatory in 1990-1998
  • King Faisal International Prize for Science Physics 2009
  • Gruber Prize in Cosmology in 2003 for pioneering studies on the nature of the cosmic microwave background and its interaction with intervening matter that led to new cosmological models
  • Alexander Friedman Prize by Russian Academy of Sciences in 2002 for the publications on the reduction of brightness of cosmic microwave background radiation in the direction of clusters of galaxies
  • Kyoto Prize 2011
  • Dirac Medal, ICTP 2019 jointly with Viatcheslav Mukhanov and Alexei Starobinsky
  • Foreign Member of the Royal Society since 2009
  • Karl Schwarzschild Medal of the German Astronomische Gesellschaft in 2008.
  • Crafoord Prize in 2008 for decisive contributions to high-energy astrophysics and cosmology.
  • Bruce Medal in 2000 for a lifetime of outstanding research in astronomy
  • Nick Kylafis Lectureship in 2019
  • Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1995
  • Member of German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina since 2003

3. Literature

  • Yudhijit Bhattacharjee: In the Afterglow of the Big Bang - Toiling behind the Iron Curtain under a tough mentor, a Russian astrophysicist uncovered secrets of the universe that have led to discoveries 4 decades later, in: Science, 1 January 2010, Vol. 327, Page 26