Riccardo Giacconi, astrophysicist

Riccardo Giacconi, astrophysicist

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Riccardo Giacconi (born 1931), Italian-American astrophysicist. After gaining his PhD from the University of Milan, Giacconi moved to the USA in 1956. First to Indiana, then to American Science and Engineering in Massachusetts, where he began work on X-ray astronomy. His team developed and launched X-ray telescopes that discovered X-ray emissions from hot gas clusters, the first known X-ray source outside the solar system and the first object to be widely accepted as a black hole. For this pioneering work Giacconi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002. In 1981 Giacconi became the first director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, where he oversaw the operation of the Hubble Space Telescope. In 1999 he moved to the European Southern Observatory (ESO), where he managed the development of the Very Large Telescope.

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