Professor Rashid Sunyaev ForMemRS
Rashid Sunyaev is a theoretical astrophysicist whose predictions have repeatedly been confirmed by astronomical observations. His work on matter spiralling into black holes is now standard theory. Rashid predicted that density fluctuations in the early Universe would leave tiny differences in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), later observed by the COBE and WMAP satellites.
The CMB is the faint microwave ‘glow’ seen across the whole of the sky, left over from immensely hot radiation in the early Universe. In 2012, a 30-year-old prediction of a CMB ‘shadow’ from hot gas in galaxy clusters was statistically confirmed by observations made at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.
As well as his CMB predictions, Rashid led the team that built the Mir space station-based and Granat orbiting X-ray observatories. Rashid’s work has opened up new frontiers in astrophysics, and this has been recognised with many awards including the 2003 Gruber Prize in Cosmology, the 2008 Crafoord Prize, and the 2011 Kyoto Prize.