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The secrets of the Big Bang

Rashid Sunyaev

Nearly fourteen billion years ago, our whole universe was in a hot dense state, till a big bang initiated an extreme expansion. At that time, the universe was filled with  elementary matter particles and photons (particles of light). All these particles traveled through the soup at tremendous speeds, colliding with each other all the time. 379.000 years later the universe has cooled down and consequently, the matter particles and photons stop interacting. The soup splits in two components: a matter part and a photon part. From that time on, the photons travel lonely through the universe for billions of years, carrying with them the secrets of the big bang...
The famous Russian astronomer Rashid Sunyaev discovered that during their billions of years of travel, these photons aren’t so lonely after all: they interact with hot gas in between galaxies. These interactions change the photons in an unmistakable way and provide us the unique opportunity to extract some of the secrets of the big bang by measuring these photons.

Professor Rashid Sunyaev was born in 1943 in a Tartar family in the Soviet Union. Although member of an oppressed ethnic group, his extreme intelligence was quickly recognized and gave him access to the best education in the Soviet Union. Mentored by the brilliant scientist Yakov Zel’dovich, who became ‘Hero of Socialist Labor’ three times for chemical rocket fuel; the Russian atomic bomb and the Russian Hydrogen bomb, Sunyaev became one of the leading scientists within the Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet Union he became director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Munich, while keeping his connection to the Russian Academy of Sciences. Besides the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect which is described above, among others he also investigated how matter falls into black holes and works on X-ray astronomy.

Hendrik de Waard Foundation
Professor Sunyaev comes to Groningen on invitation of the Hendrik de Waard Foundation in cooperation with Studium Generale Groningen. The Hendrik de Waard Foundation was founded after the retirement of the late professor Hendrik de Waard in 1987. The foundation organizes a public lecture every year to inform and intrigue the general public about recent developments within science. In 2011/2012 the foundation organizes its Silver Jubilee and to celebrate the occasion, professor Sunyaev will give a Jubilee lecture. For more information: www.hdw.fmf.nl or email to bestuur@fmf.nl

Interessante links
Wikipedia Rashid Sunyaev
Institute for Advanced Study Rashid Sunyaev
University of Chicago Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect

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