Romela SHAHBAZIAN (1925-2012)


Dr. Shahbazian was one of Byurakan astronomers after whom celestial objects have been named; she is well-known for Shahbazian compact groups of compact galaxies. Romela Karapet Shahbazian was born on 18 November 1925. She worked at BAO for 42 years, from 1953 until 1995. In 1970 Shahbazian defended her PhD thesis under the supervision of V.A. Ambartsumian. Her fields of interest were extragalactic studies: photometry of galaxies, superassociations in galaxies and extragalactic supernovae, groups of galaxies and their morphology. Shahbazian’s most important contribution was the discovery of compact groups of compact galaxies (discovered in 1957-1974 and published in 10 lists in 1973-1979 by R.K. Shahbazian, M.B. Petrosian, F.W. Baier and H. Tiersch, altogether 377 objects), named Shahbazian groups. The Catalog of the Compact groups of compact galaxies was included in Vizier in 1996 (catalog VII/89B). In 1957-1958, she discovered together with V.A. Ambartsumian blue outbursts and companions near elliptical galaxies supporting Ambartsumian’s hypothesis of activity of galactic nuclei. In 1963, she discovered “superassociations” in distant galaxies, large blue formations, later found to be emission-line objects and called HII regions. A proof of young age of these galaxies was given (together with V.A. Ambartsumian, S.G. Iskudarian, and K.A. Sahakian). In 1960s-1990s, she searched and studied extragalactic Supernovae (SNe); dozens of new SNe were discovered, as well as 3 SNe in one galaxy during 6 years (together with S.G. Iskudarian, R.G. Mnatsakanian, and A.R. Petrosian). In total, Shahbazian has published more than 50 papers. She was a member of IAU. She passed away on 12 April 2012 in Yerevan, at the age of 87.