Prof. Elma Parsamian, Armenian astrophysicist, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia has a serious contribution in the development of Armenian observational astrophysics from the earliest years of the formation of the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory, as well as in the training of further astronomical generations.
Elma Suren Parsamian was born on December 23, 1929 in Yerevan. She finished school with a gold medal, and then in 1949-1954 she studied at the physical-mathematical department of the Yerevan State University (YSU). Since 1954 she worked at the Byurakan Observatory. In 1957-1960 she studied at the post-graduate course of the Byurakan Observatory; in 1963 she defended her Candidate thesis in the field of physical-mathematical sciences on the topic “A photometric and polarimetric investigation of some cometary nebulae”. In 1967-1986 she worked as a Senior scientist of the Byurakan Observatory, in 1986-2000 as a Leading scientist. In 1983 she was awarded a Doctorate of physical-mathematical sciences, and in 1989 a professorship. Since 2000 she is a Principal scientist of the Byurakan Observatory. In 1983-1987 she was pluralistically the Head of the Chair of Astronomy and Theoretical Physics of the Armenian Pedagogical Institute. In 1967-1971 and in 1990-1991 she professed at YSU. She was the head of Committee for diploma and candidate theses. In 1991-1995 she worked as a higher of “C” level scientist at Tonantzintla Observatory of Mexico, in 1996 at the Astronomical Institute of Max Plank in Heidelberg. In 1992 she professed in Mexico as well. In 2000 she was elected a Corresponding Member of RA National Academy of Sciences, as well as a member of the Editorial Board of the journal “Astrophysics”.
Parsamian’s works refer to the physics of gas nebulae, the investigation variable stars in stellar clusters and associations and archaeoastronomy. She made photometric and polarimetric investigations of cometary nebulae. In 1965 she published the first catalogue of cometary nebulae. Since 1965 she also investigated variable, mainly flare stars. In 1970-1981 she took part in the wide-scale program of searching for flare stars in young stellar groups (Pleiades, Orion, Hyades, Praesepe, Cygnus and others) which was organized in the Byurakan Observatory. Parsamian revealed and observed numerous flare stars. In 1976 she worked out a new method of determining the age of flare stars, stellar clusters and associations which contain flare stars. In 1979 together with V.M. Petrosian she published a new catalogue of 106 cometary nebulae. She investigated the frequency distribution function of flare stars in Orion association, estimated that there were 1.5 times more flare stars in that stellar association than in Pleiades. In 1982 with the Mexican astronomer Chavira she published a catalogue of 534 stars having Ha emission lines in the region of nebula of Orion. At present she takes up questions of the spectral investigation of fuors and subfuors, spectral photometry of planetary nebulae and flare activity of flare stars and the distribution of frequency of flares. Several cometary and planetary nebulae revealed by Parsamian are named after her.
She grounded the astronomical significance of structures of Metzamor, Zorats Stones (Karahunge) and Angeghakot. She particularly found proofs concerning the existence of astronomical observation areas in Metzamor. She indicated that the star Sirius was observed in Metzamor 2500-2600 years ago.
As a result of the work done Parsamian published 136 scientific papers. She participated in more than 50 international and all-union conferences and meetings, including four General Assemblies of the International Astronomical Union and a few other IAU symposia.
Parsamian is a member of IAU (1976), European (1990), Eurasian (1996) and Armenian Astronomical Societies (2001). She is a member of New York Academy of Sciences (1995), since 1980 she is a member of BAO Specialized Council (since 2005 – Chair). In 1985-1988 she was the Vice-President of “Flare Stars” working group of the Commission of Physics of Stars of the Academies of Sciences of socialist countries, in 1986-1991 she was a member of the Commission of Astronomical Personnel Training, in 1988-1992 a member of the editorial board of the journal “Historical-Astronomical Investigations”, in 1990-1992 a member of Scientific-Methodological Commission on Astronomy of the USSR universities and institutes. She was awarded a medal of “Labor Courage” (1971), a Letter of Commendation of RA National Academy of Sciences (1981) and Anania Shirakatsi medal (2003).