Grigor GurzadyanFriday, May 10, 2019
In 1960s and early 1970s he directed the UV and X-ray observations of the Sun via Rocket Astrophysical Observatories K-2, K-3 and K-4 by means of ballistic rockets R-5; the first launch being on February 15, 1961 from Kapustin Yar military base in Russia. His paper in Comm. Armenian Acad. Sciences, XLIII, 28, 1966, “A Powerful X-ray Flare on the Sun” (of October 1, 1965) is on the detection of most powerful Solar X-ray flare observed by then.
Then he moved to design space orbital observatories, both on board automatic probes and manned spacecraft. Ultraviolet telescope Procyon was on board Kosmos 309 in 1969, and X-ray telescope Altair on board Meteor 1-16 in 1974; both were launched from Plesetsk cosmodrome. The highlight was Orion 2 Space Observatory (see Orion 1 and Orion 2 Space Observatories), with a wide-angle meniscus telescope of the Cassegrain system, operated on board the spacecraft Soyuz 13 in December 1973. Spectra of thousands of stars to as faint as 13th magnitude were obtained, the first satellite UV spectrogram of a planetary nebula (IC 2149) was obtained, revealing lines of aluminum and titanium - elements not previously observed in planetary nebulae, two photon emission from nebulae was detected for the first time. For comparison, the Skylab’s UV telescope which was on the orbit at the same time, could only look at stars down to 7.5th magnitude. Two years earlier, in April, 1971, the first space station Salyut 1 carried into orbit Orion 1 Space Observatory, the first space telescope with an objective prism.
He predicted magnetic fields in planetary nebulae in 1960s, which were actually discovered in 2005 (Jordan, Werner, O’Toole). He authored theoretical papers on flare stars (predicted negative infrared flares), interstellar matter, binary stars. In 1990s he developed the theory of common chromospheres (roundchromes) of close binary stars and of evolution of binary globular clusters.
For decades he lectured in Yerevan State University (theoretical astrophysics, celestial mechanics) and in Yerevan Polytechnic Institute (precise mechanics). He is also known as an original painter and for his essays on philosophy of science and art.