Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
Featured Author: Riccardo Giacconi
Dr. Riccardo Giacconi (b. October 6, 1931) was born in Genoa but grew up in Milan, obtaining his Ph.D. in Physics there in 1954. That same year he was awarded a professorship at University of Milan, but left in 1956 on a Fulbright Fellowship to Indiana University, where he stayed until 1958. After a position as a research associate in the Cosmic Ray Laboratory at Princeton, he joined American Science & Engineering Co., where he started a program of space science. After holding directorships of various space observatory programs and professorships at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and University of Milan, he is now a research professor at Johns Hopkins.
In 2002, Riccardo Giacconi won the Nobel Prize in Physics "for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, which have led to the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources". He has also won the Wolf Prize in Physics (1987), the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics (1981), among numerous other awards and medals. He is a member or associate of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American National Academy of Sciences, the Italian Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the British Royal Astronomical Society, and the German Max-Planck Society.
Dr. Giacconi research has focused on the detection of astronomical sources of x-ray radiation. Some of his first work consisted of developing a grazing incidence x-ray telescope that he mounted on rockets in order to overcome the x-ray absorption of the earth's atmosphere. This later led to the development of space-based x-ray observatories. His observatories are responsible for the discovery of cosmic x-ray sources, many of which were later discovered to be due to matter accelerating into neutron stars and black holes. In particular, his work led to the discovery of Cygnus X-1, the first object to be accepted as a black hole.
- Cosmic X-ray sources (2008) Scholarpedia, 3(4):4391
(Author profile by Leo Trottier)
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