Riccardo Giacconi (October 6, 1931-December 4, 2018) was an Italian-American Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist who was a pioneer in X-ray astronomy. He was the recipient of numerous major awards in astronomy, including the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002.
Giacconi was born in Genoa, Italy, on October 6, 1931. His family moved to Milan when he was three years old. He attended the University of Milan, where he studied physics. After graduating in 1954, Giacconi went on to study at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University.
In the late 1950s, Giacconi began studying X-ray astronomy, which was a new field at the time. He was the first to detect X-rays from outside the solar system in 1962. This discovery led to a revolution in the field of astronomy, as it allowed scientists to study and understand the universe in a new way.
Giacconi later went on to lead the teams that discovered several other cosmic X-ray sources. He was also a major contributor to the development of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched in 1999.
Giacconi’s pioneering work in X-ray astronomy earned him many awards, including the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002. He was also a recipient of the Bruce Medal, the Shaw Prize, and the National Medal of Science. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In addition to his work in astronomy, Giacconi was a director of the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Associated Universities Inc. He was a professor at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Milan.
Giacconi passed away on December 4, 2018, at the age of 87. He was remembered as a pioneering scientist who made fundamental contributions to the field of X-ray astronomy. His legacy lives on in the many discoveries he made and the impact he had on astronomy.