Ambartsumian’ s view on astronomy of XX century


History of BAO

Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory was founded in 1946 on the initiative of academician Victor Ambartsumian, who became the first director of the observatory, and main directions of astrophysical investigations were determined by him. First studies at the Byurakan Observatory related with the instability phenomena taking place in the Universe, and this trend became the main characteristic of the science activity in Byurakan.

Haik Badalian, Beniamin Markarian, Ruben Sahakian, Grigor Gurzadian, Ludwik Mirzoyan, Nina Ivanova, Vagharshak Sanamian, Marat Arakelian, Edward Khachikian, Karlos Grigorian were among the first astronomers, who  began their scientific life with the observatory and continued it for many years.

In 1946 Communications of the Byurakan Observatory were founded as the main journal for Byurakan astronomers. Ambartsumian became its first editor-in-chief.

The building works began in the spring of 1946 under the supervision of famous architect Samvel Safarian. The first structures were the central building, hotel and the towers of the first astronomical instruments: 5-inch double astrograph, 8/12-inch Schmidt telescope, 10-inch telescope-spectrograph, nebular spectrograph, 16-inch Cassegrain telescope and 21/21-inch (53cm) Schmidt telescope. They were built up in 1951-55. The 21/21-inch telescope was the main instrument for those years, being used for the investigation of structure and radiation properties of galaxies.

Since 1950 works on construction of radio-telescopes began. Two symphas antennas for observations in 4.2m wavelength and two symphas for 1.5m wavelength were constructed. In 1950-51 the laboratories of instrument-making, radioastrophysics, stellar astronomy and spectroscopy, as well as observatory’s library were organized.

Scientific results came just after the foundation of the Byurakan Observatory. In 1947 stellar of new type-stellar associations were discovered by V.A.Ambartsumian. It was proved that at present star-forming processes are going on in the Universe, and stars are being formed by groups. Ambartsumian   put forward an idea of star-forming in stellar associations together with gas and dust.

In November 1951, the first scientific meeting was held in the Byurakan Observatory. Stellar Associations were the subject of the conference. The observatory was not entirely built yet, but the investigations of Byurakan astronomers became well-known to the international astronomical community.

In September 19, 1956 the official opening of the Byurakan Observatory was celebrated by holding a conference on Non-stable stars. J.Greenstein, G.Herbig, G.Haro, E.Schatzman, P.L.Kapitza, B.V.Kukarkin. V.V.Sobolev and other prominent scientists were among the guests.

In the mid-50s Ambartsumian gave a new explanation for radiogalaxies radiation and proposed a new conception on the activity of galactic nuclei. By the time, it was accepted by all the astronomers, and at present most of the astrophysical observatories have the subject of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) as one of the main.

The discovery of associations and Ambartsumian’s idea about activity of galactic nuclei, as well as investigations on radiation transfer theory, based on Ambartsumian’s principle of invariance, elucidated the further development of the Byurakan Observatory’s research activities.

In 1960 a new Schmidt telescope with 40-iinch (102 cm) correcting plate and 52-inch (132 cm) mirror was installed in Byurakan. Soon, in 1965, B.E.Markarian started a survey with a goal of revealing UV-excess galaxies (First Byurakan Survey — FBS). It was continued for 15 years and became one of the most famous surveys in modern astronomy. As a result 1500 galaxies with UV-excess, named now Markarian galaxies, were discovered. Up to now, Byurakan Schmidt is one of the largest and one of the most efficient Schmidt telescopes in the world. Observations of Markarian galaxies in the Byurakan and other observatories revealed a lot of new interesting objects. E.Ye.Khachikian, together with D.Weedman (USA), discovered many new Seyfert-type galaxies and of the first time made a classification of these AGN.

In 1964 and 1971 conferences on extraterrestrial civilizations were held. The meeting of 1971 was the first international symposium on the problem of Extraterrestrial Civilizations and Communication with Them.  Many prominent scientists, including astronomers, physicists, chemists, biologists, philosophers, and specialists of other related fields participated in the symposium.

In 1965 an all-Union astrophysical journal, Astrofizika (Astrophysics) was founded, and Byurakan astronomers began to publish their papers mainly in it. TheAstrofizika became the main astrophysical journal of the Soviet Union.

IAU Symposium No. 29 in May 1966 on Non-Stable Phenomena in Galaxies will remain as one of the most interesting events during the history of the observatory. J.Oort, F.Zwicky, G.Burbidge,  M. Schmidt, and many other well-known scientists were present.