Giovanni F. Bignami

Giovanni F. Bignami




We have sad news to report that Prof. Giovanni Fabrizio Bignami passed away last night while attending a meeting in Madrid.

Prof. Bignami made many extraordinary contributions to high-energy astrophysics and science in general. He served as scientific director of the Italian Space Agency (1997-2002) and later served as its Chair (2007-2008). From 2003-2006 he was Director of the Center d'Étude Spatiale des Rayonnements in Toulouse, and served as President of the ESA's Space Science Advisory Committee. He was the first Italian to chair COSPAR (2010-2012), and he served as chair of the INAF (2011-2015). Most recently, he was chairman of the project management board for the Square Kilometre Array. He was also an active researcher, and is perhaps best known for christening and identifying Geminga, a mysterious gamma-ray source in the constellation of Gemini, later identified as a nearby pulsar. He won the HEAD's Bruno Rossi Prize in recognition of this work.

He received numerous other honors during his career. He was a member of the Accademia dei Lincei, and in 2004 he received the four-year prize for astronomy from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage of the Italian Republic. In 2000, he was appointed Officer of the Ordre National du Mérite de la Republique Française, and in April 2006 he was appointed Officier de la Legion d'Honneur for his scientific contributions. Prof. Bignami also received the Massey Award Medal (2002) and the Blaise Pascal Medal (2010) for astrophysics, and the von Karman Award of the International Academy of Astronautics. He had an asteroid named in his honor, 6852Nannibignami.

INAF has released an official announcement (in Italian). This is a great loss for our community, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family.

Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
HEAD Secretary
The Catholic University of America
Goddard Space Flight Center

Past affiliation(s) within the IAU

  • Past Member of Division D High Energy Phenomena and Fundamental Physics (until 2017)
  • Past Member of Division VIII Galaxies & the Universe (until 2012)
  • Past Member of Division J Galaxies and Cosmology (until 2017)
  • Past Member of Division XI Space & High Energy Astrophysics (until 2012)
  • Past Member of Commission 44 Space & High Energy Astrophysics (until 2015)
  • Past Member of Commission 47 Cosmology (until 2015)

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