Tuesday, December 25, 2018

'Riccardo Giacconi, 87, Explorer of the Universe Through X-Rays, Dies'

[Right: The astrophysicist Riccardo Giacconi at a symposium at Stanford University in 1962. His specialty was studying the universe through X-rays.]

'Riccardo Giacconi, 87, Explorer of the Universe Through X-Rays, Dies'

By Dennis Overbye - New /York Times - December 13, 2018

Riccardo Giacconi, an astrophysicist who won the Nobel Prize for pioneering the study of the universe through the X-rays emitted by the most violent actors in the cosmos, including black holes, exploding stars and galumphing clouds of galaxies, died on Sunday in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He was 87.

The National Academy of Sciences, of which he was a member, announced his death.

Dr. Giacconi was one of the great captains of Big Science, leaving lasting imprints on major astronomical institutions like the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which runs the Hubble Space Telescope, and the European Southern Observatory in Germany, where he oversaw the building of the largest telescope on Earth. He helped set the pattern for how large scientific projects are run today.

“If you need to do something big, Riccardo was up to the task,” Robert Kirshner, an astronomer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Palo Alto, Calif., said by email. Ticking off the observatories Dr. Giacconi directed, Dr. Kirshner called them the “great tools of discovery in the 20th (and 21st) century.”