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Viktor Ambartsumian (1908-1996) was a Soviet-Armenian astronomer, the founder of theoretical astrophysics, best known for his research on stars and the origins of the universe.

Born in Tiflis in 1908, he was educated at the University of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg State University. He continued his postgraduate studies at the Pulkovo Observatory and later founded and directed the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory in Byurakan, Armenia. Ambartsumian taught at the University of Leningrad, where he was appointed professor at age 26, and wrote the first Russian textbook on theoretical astrophysics. Most of his research was devoted to invariance principles applied to the theory of radiative transfer, inverse problems of astrophysics, and the empirical approach to the problems of the origin and evolution of stars and galaxies. He was first to suggest that T Tauri stars are very young and to propose that nearby stellar associations are expanding. He also showed that evolutionary processes such as mass loss are occurring in galaxies. He worked on interstellar matter, showing that it is in clouds, radio galaxies, and active galactic nuclei. He was the founding editor-in-chief (1964-87) of Astrofizika, which became the leading astronomy publication in the Soviet Union. He served as president of the International Astronomical Union, and he hosted conferences on the search for extraterrestrial civilizations. He also served as the president of Armenian Academy of Sciences from 1947 to 1993. He died at his observatory in Byurakan and was buried next to the Grand Telescope Tower.

Song About Byurakan was written on the occasion of Ambartsumian’s posthumous 100th birthday, and was included in Manukyan’s “From Science Series” collection.

Click here to visit the official website of Byurakan Observatory.

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