Dirac Medal 2019 awarded to Rashid Sunyaev

August 08, 2019

The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste has awarded its 2019 Dirac Medal and Prize to three physicists whose research has made a profound impact on modern cosmology. Rashid Sunyaev (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics) shares the prize with Viatcheslav Mukhanov (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) and Alexei Starobinsky (Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics) for “their outstanding contributions to the physics of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) with experimentally tested implications that have helped to transform cosmology into a precision scientific discipline by combining microscopic physics with the large scale structure of the Universe.” All three winners have made important contributions to the understanding of the early Universe in the context of inflationary cosmology.

Rashid Sunyaev has made groundbreaking contributions to the fields of physical cosmology and high-energy astrophysics. In 1970 he predicted, together with Yakov Zeldovich, the existence of acoustic peaks in the CMB. These can be seen as the elements of a pattern in the CMB sky that show how it is not uniform.  They predicted the decrease in brightness of the CMB in the direction of rich clusters of galaxies, which is now known as the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect. This discovery makes it possible to use clusters of galaxies as a powerful tool of observational cosmology. It is indeed the best tool we have now to measure the abundance and motion of distant clusters of galaxies.

First awarded in 1985, ICTP's Dirac Medal is given in honor of P.A.M. Dirac, one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. It is awarded every year on Dirac's birthday, 8 August, to scientists who have made significant contributions to theoretical physics. An award ceremony, during which the three winners will present lectures on their work, will take place later this year.

The full citation can be found here.

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