BYURAKAN ASTROPHYSICAL OBSERVATORY

The modern astronomy in Armenia begins with the foundation of the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO) in 1946 by the outstanding scientist of the XX century Viktor Ambartsumian. BAO is at present the main centre for astrophysical research in Armenia.

         History of BAO

         Main achievements

         Scientific instruments and Databases

         Research groups

         Research staff

         Current projects

         BAO Plate Archive Project

         Recent results (2000-2016)

         Annual Reports (2000-2016)

         International collaboration

         Scientific meetings

         Publications (2000-2016)

         Scientific Tourism Centre

 

Main administrative building of the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory and towers of two old telescopes (40cm and 50cm reflectors)

Main webpage at Byurakan

 

 

Most recent and complete information about BAO is available in the book:

Mickaelian A.M. 2008, The Byurakan Observatory, Edit Print, Yerevan, 48p.

 

 

The first studies at BAO related with the instability phenomena taking place in the Universe, and this trend became the main characteristic of the science activity in Byurakan. Discovery of stellar associations (1947), hypothesis about activity of galactic nuclei by V.A.Ambartsumian (1958), discovery and study of many Seyfert galaxies and QSOs, discovery of more than 1000 flare stars, dozens of Supernovae, hundreds of Herbig-Haro objects and cometary nebulae, valuable works in the field of radiative transfer theory, are the main scientific achievements of the Byurakan astronomers. The First and Second Byurakan surveys (FBS, 1965-1980, and SBS, 1978-1991) conducted due to tireless efforts of another famous Armenian astronomer, Beniamin Markarian (1913-1985) brought to the well-known Markarian galaxies and SBS objects, studied by many extragalactic astronomers.

Surveys and search for new objects are the traditional field for the Armenian astronomers: Markarian, Arakelian and Kazarian galaxies, Shahbazian groups are known to all astronomers. This tradition is being continued: searches for blue stellar objects and late-type stars; Herbig-Haro objects, Ha stars and stellar jets; optical identifications of IR, radio and X-ray sources, are among the main subjects of BAO's present activities. Other fields of investigations are: observational cosmology, theory of compact cosmic objects, and astrophysical applications of mathematical physics.

Main achievements of the Armenian astronomy are connected with V.A. Ambartsumian, our greatest scientist. He was the IAU Vice-President in 1948-55 and President in 1961-64, twice elected the ICSU President (1968-72), was honorary member of 28 academies and societies. Ambartsumian was the President of the Armenian Academy of Sciences during 1947-1993 and the Director of BAO during 1946-1988. Those times the Byurakan Observatory was one of the main astronomical centres in the world.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and beginning of the economic crisis, the Armenian astronomers among all other scientists appeared in an extremely hard situation. Many of them left Armenia for a long period, others went away from the science at all. However, most of them still work in astronomy. At present, BAO has some 70 researchers, including 11 Doctors of Science and 38 Candidates of Science (Ph.D.). There are 3 scientific divisions and 21 small research groups at BAO.

The main scientific instruments at BAO are: 2.6m telescope (equipped with ByuFOSC and SCORPIO focal reducers, and VAGR multi-pupil spectrograph), 1m and 0.5m Schmidt telescopes, a few other telescopes of 40-60 cm size, and the PDS microdensitometer. BAO has a big archive of photographic plates, including the Byurakan Surveys, 2650 plates, containing information on some 20,000,000 low-dispersion spectra of objects of the whole Northern sky and a part of the Southern sky at high galactic latitudes (|b|>15), over an area of 17,000 deg2.

The Byurakan astronomers collaborate with scientists of France, Germany, Italy, UK, Spain, Russia, USA, Mexico, Japan, China, India, and other countries. Though the funding of science in Armenia is at very low level (the mean salary is equivalent to USD 20), however the Byurakan astronomers work actively due to the international collaboration and grants, and a number of valuable contributions in science. A significant progress started with the establishment of the French-Armenian collaboration in 1994: the 2.6m telescope was put to re-operation with modern equipment, Armenian astronomers visit the French astronomical centres for short-period research work, BAO's library receives again journals and books.

BAO is known for a number of important meetings held in Byurakan: IAU Symposia No. 29 held in 1966 (The Non-Stable Phenomena in Galaxies), No. 121: Observational Evidences of Activity in Galaxies (1986), No. 137: Flare Stars in Star Clusters, Associations and Solar Vicinity (1989), and No. 194: Activity in Galaxies and Related Phenomena (1998); IAU Colloquium No. 184: AGN Surveys (2001); the First International Symposium on Communications with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CETI) in 1971; ESO-Byurakan School in 1987, and many others.