Sco X-1 discovery observation
Credit: Giacconi, R., Gursky, H. Paolini, F., & Bruno Rossi, 1962, Physical Review Letters, volume 9, pg. 439

Tracing a Bright Path

Riccardo Giacconi, widely regarded as the father of X-ray astronomy has won a share of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics. Giacconi, currently president of Associated Universities, Inc., was recognized for his pioneering work in building the first X-ray detectors and telescopes and for discovering (with Herbert Gursky, Frank Paolini and Bruno Rossi) the first X-ray source outside the solar system, Sco X-1. The image above shows the discovery observation, obtained by scanning the sky with geiger counters carried aloft by a sounding rocket, which detected large X-ray flux near 195 degrees azimuth in the direction of the constellation Scorpius. Giacconi has played key roles in most important x-ray observatories including UHURU, EINSTEIN X-ray Observatory and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Giacconi shares the 2002 Nobel Physics Prize with Raymond Davis Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania and Masatoshi Koshiba of the University of Tokyo. Davis was honored for designing the experiment which first detected neutrinos from the sun, which provided the first direct look at the thermonuclear processes taking place at the sun's core (and unveiling a mystery which took over 20 years to solve). Masatoshi Koshiba was honored for his work in neutrino astronomy, which led to the first detection of neutrinos from a supernova.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified October 14, 2002