Vahe PETROSIAN (b. 1938)



Vahe Petrosian, Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University is one of the outstanding Armenian-American astronomers.


He was born on September 3, 1938. He studied physics and astrophysics at the Cornell University in 1958-1962 (B.E.E.) and 1962-63 (M.S., thesis adviser Prof. Marshall Cohen). In 1963-67, he finished his Ph.D. studies under the supervision of Prof. Edwin Salpeter and defended his Ph.D. thesis. Prof. Petrosianís professional experience started in 1961: he was a Teaching Assistant at Cornell University (1961), Research Assistant, CRSR, Cornell Univ. (1962-67), Research Assoc, CRSR, Cornell Univ. (1967), Research Fellow, Calif. Inst. Technology (1967-69), Visiting Scientist, IOTA Cambridge (1969), Assistant Professor, Stanford Univ. (1969-71), Consultant, Kitt Peak Natl Observatory (1971), Associate Professor, Stanford Univ. (1972-79), Professor, Stanford University (since 1980), work at Arcetri, Florence; NOAO, Tucson,AZ; Nordita, Copenhagen; Cornell Univ. (1982-83), at Observatoire de Meudon, France (1989-90), at Space Telescope Science Institute (1996), at NOAO, Tucson, AZ (1998), and at Inst. Adv. Studies; Bochum Univ. (2000).


Prof. Petrosianís main fields of scientific interests are theoretical astrophysics with concentration on high energy astrophysical processes in solar and stellar flares, gamma-ray bursts, accretion disks of stellar and active galactic black holes and clusters of galaxies, and in cosmology; early phase of the universe, the evolution of galaxies and quasars, arcs in clusters of galaxies, and gravitational lensing. His research interests have been in two broad areas of high energy astrophysics and cosmology. The former area includes studies of acceleration, transport and radiation of non-thermal particles, developed primarily for application to solar flares. This works has also found application in variety of other astrophysical sources including accretion disks, Gamma-ray bursts and Clusters of Galaxies. The work in cosmology is focused on evolution of galaxies and quasars (and AGNs in general), and in luminous arcs in clusters of galaxies (of which he is a co-discoverer: R. Lynds & V. Petrosian, 1989, "Luminous Arcs in Clusters of Galaxies", ApJ, 336) and gravitational lensing. Another interest has been in the area of statistical methods relevant to analysis of astronomical data. This work is carried out in collaboration with B. Efron of the Statistics Department at Stanford has been concentrated on development of new non-parametric methods for determination of distribution of astronomical sources from truncated data.


Prof. Petrosian has published more than 250 scientific papers on several subjects, including Gamma-Ray Burst (>40 publications), quasars and AGN (>20), Solar flares (>70), statistical methods (>15), and others (>100). He had more than 30 thesis undergraduate and graduate students and 7 postdoctoral associates since 1973.


Prof. Petrosian was awarded the Iranian National Fellowship (1958-62), the Industrial Fellowship, Cornell University (1963-64), and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship (1972-74). He is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), International Astronomical Union (IAU), American Astronomical Society (AAS), Eta Kappa Nu, and Tau Beta Pi. He joined the Armenian Astronomical Society in April 2007.