A r A S   N e w s






No. 7-8   (December 30, 2003)




Editor: T.Yu.Magakian, tigmag@sci.am




The ArAS Newsletter in the INTERNET:   http://www.aras.am








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ArAS wishes Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all !


We apologize for the delay of this number of the Newsletter, which was the result of various non-related problems.





            1) 95th anniversary of V.A. AMBARTSUMIAN

2) 90th anniversary of Beniamin MARKARIAN

3) 50th anniversary of Dr. Tigran MAGAKIAN

4) 8th International Astronomy Olympiad

5) Donations to ArAS

6) Contact information for ArAS.





On September 18 this year, we celebrated the 95th anniversary of the greatest Armenian scientist, and one of the greatest astronomers of the XX century, Victor Ambartsumian.


Ambartsumian was born in 1908 in Tbilisi (Georgia). After the graduation of the Leningrad (Saint-Petersburg) State University and post-graduate studentship in Pulkovo Observatory, he founded in his alma-mater the first Department of Astrophysics in the Soviet Union. In 1943 V.A.Ambartsumian was one of the founding members of the Armenian Academy of Sciences and its elected Vice-President. Soon, in 1947, he became the president of the Academy, and since 1993 he was its honorary president.


In 1946 the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia was founded.  Since the first days till 1988 V.A.Ambartsumian was its director and scientific leader and determined main directions of astrophysical investigations. Since 1988 he was its honorary director. Thanks to Ambartsumian's and his colleagues' works the Byurakan Observatory became one of the known observatories in the world.


Ambartsumian's works are distinguished in perfection and opened new directions in astrophysics. His papers on physics of gaseous nebulae and radiation transfer theory are classic ones. The Invariance Principle, formulated in these works for the first time, was widely applied in other fields of the science. Ambartsumian's investigations on the problem of stellar evolution brought in 1947 to revealing of stellar systems of new type - stellar associations. The existence of stellar associations in the Galaxy, dynamically non-stable and disintegrating systems, was the first observational evidence in favor of continuing at present star-formation in it. It was proved that at present star-forming processes are going on in the Universe, and stars are being formed in groups. Ambartsumian put forward a hypothesis on the joint origin of diffuse matter and stars in stellar associations from a dense matter of unknown nature - protostars.


Ambartsumian's studies of early stages of evolution of stars and stellar systems are rather significant. It was shown, that in the early stages of the evolution, the instability of state reveals itself, being the regular phase of cosmogonic processes. Among these results the conclusions about the existence of stellar systems of positive total energy in the Galaxy, non-thermal nature of ultraviolet stellar radiation of T Tauri type and flare stars, are to be mentioned.


V.A.Ambartsumian achieved new principle results in study of evolution of galaxies. In the mid-50s he gave a new explanation for radiation of radiogalaxies (opposite to the collision model) and proposed a new concept on activity of galactic nuclei. It was shown for the first time, that the central regions of galaxies - their nuclei, play decisive role in the phenomena of instability, observed in galaxies. Beside the stars and diffuse matter they must contain dense massive bodies of unknown nature. The activity of galactic nuclei defines their evolution. By the time, it was accepted by all astronomers (now a black hole is considered as the central engine of galaxies, which is the densest known matter for that scale), and at present most of the astrophysical observatories have the subject of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) as one of their main and AGN are the most intensively studied objects in extragalactic astronomy. Moreover, Ambartsumian was the first to understand that all observed unusual phenomena related to central regions of galaxies are of the same nature and have to be explained in a joint model: intense radio emission, QSO phenomenon, UV excess, jets and outflows, etc. At present, the Unified Scheme of AGN explains all this, however, its ideological basis was established about 30 years before the work of Antonucci and Miller!


Ambartsumian has carried out some other investigations of great importance in astrophysics as well, such as the study of the interstellar absorbing matter in Our Galaxy (the idea of its clumpy structure, the theory of fluctuations of light of the Milky Way), works on stellar dynamics (establishing the basis of a new, statistical mechanics of stellar systems), statistical investigations of flare stars, and others. Ambartsumian estimated the real number of flare stars in stellar aggregates just on the basis of stars shown flares before, and predicted that all dwarf stars pass through the stage of flare activity. Really, further observations and studies of these objects confirmed entirely Ambartsumian's prediction.


On these and many other topics V.A.Ambartsumian has published about 20 books and booklets, more than 200 scientific papers, numerous popular articles. His many-sided research has been represented in a 3-volume edition. Numerous books have been devoted to Ambartsumian's life and activity.


Ambartsumian was an outstanding organizer of science, who significantly promoted the international scientific cooperation. In 1948-1955 he was the Vice-President, and in 1961-64 - the President of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), in 1968 and 1970 he was twice elected the President of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). In 1965, Ambartsumian founded a new journal Astrofizika (English translation: Astrophysics), which he edited until 1988. It became the main astrophysical journal of the Soviet Union and is being published and translated at present as well. On Ambartsumian's initiative, a number of international meetings have been organized in Byurakan, including IAU Symposia, the first Symposium on Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and a number of outstanding scientists have visited the Byurakan Observatory and collaborated with Armenian scientists. Ambartsumian founded the Department of Astrophysics in the Yerevan State University and the Council for Scientific Degrees in Byurakan. Almost all of the Byurakan scientists have been Ambartsumian's students, including those working at present in astronomical centers of other countries.


Ambartsumian's many-sided activity accepted high estimate. He was awarded governmental prizes, orders and medals of a number of countries (USSR State Prizes in 1946 and 1950, twice Hero of the Socialist Labour in 1968 and 1978, National Hero of Armenia in 1994, Russian State Prize in 1995), gold medals of a number of academies and scientific societies. He was elected honorary and foreign member of 28 Academies of Sciences, including USA, UK, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Greece, Czechoslovakia, India, Argentina, and other National Academies, honorary member of scientific societies of many countries, honorary doctor of the Universities of Canberra (Australia), La Plata (Argentina), Warsaw and Torun (Poland), Prague (Czechoslovakia), Liege (Belgium) and Sorbonne (France).


Victor A. Ambartsumian passed away on August 12, 1996 in Byurakan. Since 1998 the Byurakan Observatory bears his name. He will remain forever as one of the most outstanding scientists of the XX century.







This year we celebrated the 90th anniversary of B.E. Markarian, one of our greatest astronomers, the author of the Byurakan surveys and discoverer of the famous Markarian galaxies.


Beniamin Egishevich Markarian was born on November 29, 1913 in Shulaver (at present Shahumian, Georgia). In his school years he was already interested in astronomy, read many scientific-popular books. He lost his parents very early and, without any assistance in hungry 30s, he came to Yerevan and entered the Physical-Mathematical Department of the Yerevan State University (YSU). In 1938, Markarian graduated from the YSU with a diploma of excellency on Mathematics. In 1938-1941 he worked at the Yerevan Pedagogical Institute as a senior lecturer of High Mathematics. In 1939 Markarian entered the post-graduate study at the Armenian branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences, speciality of astrophysics and went to the Leningrad University. There, for the first time he met Prof. V.A. Ambartsumian, who became the supervisor of his Ph.D. studies. However, the war prevented him to finish the graduate courses. Markarian returned to Armenia and was sent to military service in summer of 1941, held a service in Iran with the Soviet Army.


After returning from the Army, since 1942 Markarian worked as a senior research associate at the Yerevan Astronomical Observatory. Here he published his first scientific paper on the Eclipsing Variable SS Cam. In May 1944 he defended his Ph.D. thesis on a subject "Fluctuations in the visible distribution of stars and the cosmic absorption". In 1943-1956 he worked also simultaneously as a lecturer at the YSU. Later, Markarian took a very active part in search of a site, and later on also in organization of the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO). Since the foundation of BAO in 1946, Markarian started to work as a senior research associate. He personally mounted and functioned all telescopes of the Observatory (except the latest 2.6m), thus making a base for development of the observational astronomy in Armenia. In May 1953, Markarian was appointed the Deputy Director of BAO on science. However, understanding that the science required his entire time, he left the honorary post in 1956, and was appointed at the position of the Head of the Department of Stellar Astronomy. Very soon, in 1957, Markarian's scientific interests turned to the extragalactic astronomy. He published a number of papers on studies of galaxies. In 1962, he was appointed the Head of the Department of Extragalactic Studies.


In 40s, Prof. Ambartsumian put forward an interesting idea on continuing of the group birth of stars at present time and on dynamical instability of stellar systems, stellar "associations". Markarian took very active part in study of stellar associations, and the merit of revealing of the role of stellar clusters in associations belonged to him. On the basis of an analysis of a large observational material Markarian showed that it was possible to separate a class of O-clusters having a great significance in understanding of the initial stages of stellar evolution. He worked out a new classification of stellar clusters allowing to distinguish among them the objects of different ages and made up the first systematic catalog of O-associations with mentioning of stellar clusters in them. In just the first years of the existence of BAO, obtaining photos of a significant number of stars of open clusters with a small telescope, Markarian made up in 1952 an "Atlas of the open stellar clusters", which was used widely by astronomers of many observatories for many years.


After the construction of a new 1m Schmidt telescope for the Byurakan Observatory by the Leningrad Optical Mechanical Works (LOMO), one of the most efficient telescopes of this type, Markarian together with colleagues from LOMO was engaged in its mounting. It was an intense work requiring many forces during day and night and the large experience acquired by Markarian during mounting of all previous telescopes here became crucial. The 1m Schmidt telescope was an important facility for new interesting astrophysical tasks. Already before the mounting of the new telescope Markarian was engaged in study of bright galaxies, where he noticed strange non-correspondence of the colours with the morphological types: these were galaxies with an excessive ultraviolet radiation. In 1963, he published an important paper with a list of 40 such galaxies. An idea of discovery, catalogization and detailed study of fainter galaxies of this type grew in Markarian's mind. He ordered a prism with a very low dispersion in LOMO, and receiving and mounting it on the telescope, he started the observations. According to the estimations of many authority scientists, he was a brilliant observer, and the special methods worked out by him allowed to solve the task of revealing these unusual galaxies.


The galaxies discovered by Markarian appeared to be so interesting objects that the observational time of the world largest telescopes during a long period of time was allocated for their detailed investigation. Searching UV-excess galaxies, Markarian and his colleagues V.A. Lipovetsky and J.A. Stepanian during 1965-1980 observed the entire Northern sky and a part of the Southern sky, and as a result of this work, the First Byurakan Survey (FBS) was obtained. It was found that among the 1500 objects having abnormal excess of UV radiation discovered during the fulfilment of the FBS (Markarian galaxies), there appear objects with various evidence of activity - QSOs, Seyfert galaxies, BL Lac objects, LINERs, Starburst galaxies, sources of radio, infrared, X-ray, and gamma-ray radiation, interacting and merging objects, galaxies with double and multiple nuclei. The FBS brought to the first classification of Seyferts and the definition of Starburst galaxies.


In the last years of his life, Markarian together with his colleagues J.A. Stepanian, V.A. Lipovetsky and L.K. Erastova started the Second Byurakan Spectral Sky Survey (SBS) for revealing and studies of fainter distant extragalactic peculiar objects. The first publication on the SBS appeared in 1983. Altogether, Markarian has published more than 100 papers. Two catalogues of Markarian galaxies have been published in 1986 (Mazzarella & Balzano) and 1989 (Markarian et al.). Since 1997, the list of Markarian galaxies is available at CDS database, Strasbourg. The SBS survey has been finished recently and the catalogue of ~3600 objects has been compiled (Stepanian, Chavushyan & Erastova, in press). Markarian survey initiated also other search and studies of active galaxies in the world, surveys for active galaxies became one of the main directions of the Byurakan Observatory and the Armenian astronomers.


Markarian's investigations brought a wide fame to him and scientific authority among the specialists as in the Soviet Union, so as abroad. The results of most of his works entered the textbooks on stellar astronomy and astrophysics. New large facilities are now available for astrophysical research giving hundreds times better results than in Markarian's times. Space telescopes are being launched every year and thousands of new interesting objects are being listed in archives. And surprisingly, Markarian galaxies do not become historical objects: all recent interesting discoveries at different wavelengths come to prove again that Markarian galaxies are probably the most interesting objects in the Universe. They contain all wonders of the extragalactic Universe. It is true that it is possible to teach extragalactic astronomy, especially the course of active galaxies based on the Markarian galaxies only.


Markarian was a member of IAU since 1955, Commissions Nos. 28 and 37. For outstanding achievements in science in 1965 he was elected a Corresponding member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, and in 1971, its Full member. In 1973-1976 Markarian was the Vice-President, and in 1976-1979, the President of the IAU Commission No. 28 (Galaxies). In 1950 Markarian (together with V.A. Ambartsumian) was awarded the USSR State Prize, and in 1961, the title of Deserved Figure of science of Armenia. For achievements in the development of science he was awarded a number of state orders and medals.


Markarian was an honest, modest and kind person, but simultaneously strict and requiring to himself and his colleagues. Till the end of his life, in spite of his bad health, he worked actively, continuing to do the main job of his scientific activity, survey works in extragalactic astronomy. Markarian passed away on September 29, 1985 in Yerevan, after a long and heavy illness. He will remain in our hearts forever.








Dr. Tigran Yu. Magakian, the Vice-President of ArAS and the Editor of our Newsletter, celebrated his 50th anniversary.


Magakian was born on July 16, 1953 in Yerevan, Armenia. He graduated from the Yerevan State University, Department of Astrophysics in 1975 and started working at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO). He was a post-graduate during 1976-78, and defended his Ph.D. thesis in 1979 on study of so-called  cometary nebulae. In 1989 he became a senior research associate and head of a research group. In 2001 Magakian defended a doctoral thesis on the anisotropic activity of pre-main-sequence stars. From 2001 he is a leading research associate at the Byurakan Observatory. For many years he is engaged in the observations on 2.6 m telescope in Byurakan and on 6 m telescope of Special Astrophysical Observatory (Russia), actively using the most modern methods of astronomical spectroscopy.


Tigran Magakian has published about 60 papers in major astronomical journals (A&A, Russian Astron. J, Astrofizika, etc.) which are devoted to study of young stellar objects in our Galaxy. Recently he published a Merged catalogue of reflection nebulae (A&A, 399, 141, 2003). His research interests concern Herbig-Haro objects, T Tauri stars, cometary nebulae, jets from young stars, and many other objects and phenomena. Among his other achievements the studies of so-called spectral asymmetry in cometary nebulae and discoveries and thorough analysis of many dozens of Herbig-Haro objects should be noted.


Magakian has participated in a number of international astronomy meetings, including JENAM, IAU Symposia and Colloquia. On his initiative, new international collaborations have been established with French, Japanese, UK and USA astronomers. These projects are currently active in BAO.


As an interesting and unusual hobby of Magakian his participation in various games on intellect and erudition should be mentioned, where he had many achievements and just recently became a laureate of "Crystal Owl", awarded by Armenian and Russian TV channels.


Magakian is a member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU, 1988), the European Astronomical  Society (EAS, 1991), the Euro-Asian Astronomical Society (EAAS, 1996) and the Armenian Astronomical Society (1999). He was one of the active founders of our society in 1999-2001. In 2002, Magakian was elected in the Scientific-Technical Council of EAAS.


On behalf of the Armenian Astronomical Society we wish him good health and success and new scientific achievements.






The 8-th International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) was held in Stockholm, October 3-8, this year. The participant teams were the following: Southern Korea, China, Indonesia, Iran, India, Russia, Moscow Region, Armenia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Sweden, Stockholm and Brasil. The teams of Yugoslavia and Italy were unable to participate because of financial problems. The observer from Ireland participated too.


The participants were divided into two groups: seniors (30 students) and juniors (28 students). Armenian team was formed of four students, involved in the senior group. According to the rules of IAO, each country is allowed to present only two students in the senior group. Because of results, reached by Armenian students in the last IAO-s, our team was completed of four students. They are all gifted students of the "Quantum" college of Yerevan:


Zhirayr Avetisyan, Mkrtich Soghomonyan, Artavazd Minasyan and Davit Aghamalyan.


Zhirayr Avetisyan and Mkrtich Soghomonyan won the first rank diploma in the senior group competition. Besides, the diplomants of the senior group became also two students from India and one student from Russia. Artavazd Minasyan won the third rank diploma. Beside that, Zhirayr Avetisyan won special diploma for the best solution of tasks of practical round.



Research Associate, Byurakan Observatory and

Senior Lecturer, "Quantum" College.





The first donation to ArAS was made by Prof. Dan WEEDMAN (USD 400). It was used for the organization of AraS web page (payment for domain and hosting during two years), and partly, for the organization of the ArAS First Annual Meeting.


Recently Mr. David NELSON, the President of the Yerevan Office of Jinishian Fund, donated USD 500 in support of publication of the book "Armenian Astronomers". In addition, he has donated USD 300 to ArAS, which is in memory of his daughter Ingrid Nelson.


We are grateful to our generous sponsors for supporting ArAS activities, as well as all ArAS members paying their dues in time.







Address:           Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO),

Byurakan 378433, Aragatzotn province, ARMENIA

Tel/fax:              +374-1 53-27-51 (Areg Mickaelian)

E-mail:              aras@web.am, aras_org@freenet.am

Web page:        http://www.aras.am