Edward Yerem Khachikian




The Armenian astronomy suffered an irreparable loss. In the morning of 4 February 2018, in his 90th year of life, the well-known astrophysicist, full member of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences (NAS RA) Edward Yerem Khachikian passed away.

E. Ye․ Khachikian was born on 16 December 1928 in Yerevan. In 1951 he graduated from the Yerevan State University (YSU) Astrophysics Department. He was one of the first graduates of this department, along with also well-known astronomers Marat Arakelian and Karlos Grigorian. After graduating from the University, he was employed at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO) and passed the entire path of the scientific career from Junior Researcher to Principal Researcher. In 1952-1955, he took PhD studies at the Leningrad State University (LSU) under the supervision of Viktor Dombrovsky, who was known for his discovery of the polarization of light of the Crab Nebula in BAO. In 1957, he defended his PhD (Candidate of Phys.-Math. Sciences) thesis, and in 1975, his Doctoral thesis. Khachikian was a professor (1982), NAS RA full member (1996). In 1960-1969 he was the Scientific Secretary of BAO, then since 1970, he was the Head of the BAO Laboratory of Spectroscopy, and in 1980-1985, the Dean of the YSU Faculty of Physics. Khachikyan was the Director of BAO in 1988-1993 and in 1999-2003. In recent years, he was a Principal Researcher and Science Advisor at BAO.

E. Ye․ Khachikian’s works relate to gas-dust and cometary nebulae, polarization of radiation of nebulae, stellar associations and superassociations, extragalactic astronomy, active galaxies, and Seyfert and Markarian galaxies. He is well-known for his studies of gas-dust nebulae (1955-1968), first spectral observations of Markarian galaxies and the discovery of new Seyfert-type galaxies (1968, with the American astronomer Daniel Weedman; as a result the number of then known Seyfert galaxies was almost doubled), classification of these galaxies into Seyfert 1 and Seyfert 2 classes (1973) and publication of the “Atlas of Seyfert Galaxies” (1974, also with Daniel Weedman), with the discovery and investigation of superassociations, the discovery of double and multiple nuclei of active galaxies, their photometric and spectrophotometric studies. Together with the famous American astronomer Halton Arp, he has shown that Markarian 94 is not a galactic nuclei, but a superassociation in a spiral galaxy; a number of similar objects were later discovered that were important for understanding of the physics and evolution of active galaxies. As a result of his scientific research, he has published more than 160 scientific papers and reviews. He has edited the Proceedings of a number of scientific conferences and has been the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Astrophysics”.

E. Ye․ Khachikian was among those astronomers, who had possibilities to accomplish his research with the USA (Mt. Palomar, Kitt Peak, Lick, McDonald), Russian (Special Astrophysical Observatory, SAO) and German (Tautenburg) largest telescopes. As a visiting astronomer and later on as a visiting professor, since 1960s he worked in astronomical observatories, astronomical institutes and universities of a number of countries (USA, Germany, France, Italy, Bulgaria, and Iran). He participated in many international symposia and conferences, including the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assemblies 1958-2003, IAU Symposia, etc. He was the chair or member of the scientific organizing committees of some of them.

For long years E. Ye․ Khachikian lectured at the YSU: “Extragalactic Astronomy”, “Stellar astronomy”, “Spectrophotometry” and a number of other subjects, he supervised 8 PhD students Candidate of Sciences theses, including 1 who later also became Doctor of Phys.-Math. Sciences. Khachikian was a member of IAU (1967), European Astronomical Society (EAS), and other international organizations. In 1991-1994 he was the President of the IAU Commission #28 “Galaxies”, in 1983-1992 he was the USSR Academy of Sciences Astronomical Council Bureau member and Chair of the Commission “Physics and Evolution of Galaxies and Metagalaxy”, and the Chair of BAO Specialized Council. He was awarded the order “Sign of Honour”, Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (AESA) “Viktor Ambartsumian” Prize (1998), other State and scientific awards, prizes and certificates.

Edward Yerem Khachikian’s memory will forever remain in the history of the Armenian astronomy.

Past affiliation(s) within the IAU

  • Past President of Commission 28 Galaxies (1991-1994)
  • Past Vice-President of Commission 28 Galaxies (1988-1991)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 28 Galaxies (1994-1997)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 28 Galaxies (1985-1988)
  • Past Member of Division J Galaxies and Cosmology (until 2018)
  • Past Member of Commission 28 Galaxies (until 2015)
  • Past Member of Division VIII Galaxies & the Universe (until 2012)

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