Ramaty, R.

Alternative names
Birth 1937
Death 2001

Biographical notes:


Reuven Ramaty was born on February 25, 1937, in Timisoara, a Hungarian enclave in Romania. He grew up during the uproar of World War II in a multicultural environment and immigrated to Israel at age 11. He loved languages and became fluent in Hebrew, English, and French in addition to his native Romanian and Hungarian. He also studied German, Italian and Japanese. Ramaty graduated from Tel Aviv University in 1961 with B.S. in physics. He earned his Ph.D. in planetary space physics from UCLA in 1966 in a record time of two years. Ramaty joined Goddard Space Flight Center in 1967, first as a post-doctoral research associate, and then as a government-employed astrophysicist at the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics. From 1980 to 1993, he served as the head of the theory office at the laboratory.

Ramaty had a profound scientific impact on the study of solar-flare physics, gamma-ray astronomy, and cosmic rays. Together with his longtime collaborator Richard Lingenfelter, he pioneered in establishing the field of solar gamma-ray-line astronomy using the abundance of elements in the sun and determining how sun flares are produced. He and Richard Lingenfelter first showed these techniques in 1967 and continued to refine them over the next 30 years through extensive studies. Ramaty also pioneered the field of gamma-ray-line astronomy with seminal studies of positron annihilation radiation, nuclear deexcitation lines, and nucleosynthetic decay lines in the interstellar medium and compact sources. His accomplishments are reflected in over 200 publications and more than 5,000 citations to his work in the literature.

Ramaty was the principal investigator on four NASA-funded theory initiatives and a co- or guest investigator on several space-science missions. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Ramaty's interpretation of gamma-ray data from the COS-B, SAS and HEAO-C missions guided the development of the highly successful Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Ramaty also was a major influence in the success of the Solar Maximum Mission and the High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (HESSI) mission. His colleagues point out that HESSI might not have been realized without his active encouragement and involvement.

Ramaty also served the high-energy astronomy community as chairman of the High-Energy Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society, chairman of the Division of Astrophysics and Divisional Councilor for Astrophysics of the American Physical Society, and an associate editor of Physical Review Letters.

Ramaty received several major awards in his career. He was awarded the Senior U.S. Scientist Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 1975. In 1980, Ramaty was honored with NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award. In 1981, he became recipient of the Lindsay Award from Goddard Space Flight Center for his work on gamma-ray bursts. Lastly, one week before his death, he was notified that he was the winner of the 2001 Yodh Prize, given by the Commission on Cosmic Rays of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

Reuven Ramaty died on April 8, 2001.

From the guide to the Reuven Ramaty Papers, 1963-1999, (University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.)


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