Hrant Tovmassian


Prof. Hrant Tovmassian is one of the famous persons of the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory and Armenian astronomy in general. It is difficult to overestimate his numerous scientific results, as well as his administrative, pedagogical, editorial and organizational activity. The great part of Tovmassian’s prolific creative life passed in the Byurakan Observatory and nowadays it successfully continues in Mexico as well. The considerable part of achievements of the Armenian astronomy in the field of radio-astronomy is connected with his name, and during the last years he achieved scientific results in other spheres of astronomy as well.


Hrant Mushegh Tovmassian was born on June 3, 1929 in Yerevan. In 1948 he entered the physical-mathematical department of Yerevan State University (YSU), which he graduated with a profession of astrophysics in 1953. Since then his life and activity is connected with the Byurakan Observatory. In 1953-1956 he studied at the post-graduate course of the Byurakan Observatory and in 1958 he defended a Candidate thesis on the topic “The increase of sensitivity of interferometric radiotelescopes” at YSU (under S.E. Khaikin’s supervision). In 1968-1972 he was the scientific secretary of the Byurakan Observatory, in 1969 he defended a Doctorate thesis on the topic “Investigation of galaxies and galactic clusters by optical and radio methods”; in 1972-1992 he was a head of a laboratory, in 1979-1986 a Vice-Director on science of the Byurakan Observatory. Since 1986 he was a leading scientist and a head of a scientific thematic group. In 1967-1992 he professed at the YSU, since 1986 he was a professor. Since 1992 he works as a higher “C” level researcher at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics of Mexico (INAOE, Puebla). During different periods of time he worked and made radio observations in the observatories of Great Britain, Australia, the USA, Germany, Spain and Southern Korea as well. He is a head of numerous theses both in Armenia and in Mexico.


Tovmassian’s works refer to radio-astronomy, space (extra-atmospheric) astronomy, OB stellar associations, extragalactic astronomy, flare stars. The Byurakan classification of central regions of galaxies and their radio-observations, the radio-observations of Markarian galaxies and the revelation of the power of radio-radiation among the objects of different classes of activity, the investigation of radio-radiation of groups and clusters of galaxies, as well as stellar clusters, the revelation of rapid flares among flare stars, the investigation of OB stellar associations with the help of cosmic ultra-violet telescopes, the spectral investigation of objects of the Byurakan Second Survey, the investigation of compact galaxies and compact groups can be mentioned as main scientific results.


Tovmassian’s contribution in astronomical instrument-making is also considerable; “Glazar” (1987) and “Glazar 2” (1990) cosmic observatories, the project of “Ashot” (1988) cosmic observatory, the off-set guiding system of “Astron” cosmic observatory (1984) and the Two-channel rapid photometer (1987) were implemented on his own initiative and under his direct supervision.


In 1969-1991 Tovmassian was the Editor-in-Chief of “Reports of the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory”, in 1969-1986 he was a member of the editorial council of the journal “Astrophysics”, and in 1975-1996 a member of all-union journal “Earth and Universe”. He was a member of Scientific and Specialized councils of the Byurakan Observatory, the council of all-union astronomical-geodetic society (1975-1983), the united council of cosmic astronomy of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the Government (1978-1991), as well as a member of scientific societies: IAU (1967), EAS (1990) and ArAS (2002). In 1985 he was awarded a state prize of the Armenian SSR for the cosmic project “Astron”.


Tovmassian is an author of 12 books, 167 scientific papers and papers in the proceedings of several dozen conferences. The following books “Astronomy. A textbook for secondary schools” (1970, 1971, 1973; co-authors: M.A. Arakelian, A.T. Kalloghlian, L.V. Mirzoyan), “Violent Galaxies” (1974), “Radioastronomy” (1976), “Exploding Worlds” (1979), “Extragalactic radio sources” (1986), “Radio-galaxies” (1987) are more important.