2018 Prize Winners


Prof. Edward van den Heuvel
(Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, University of Amsterdam,
the Netherlands)

Prof. Alexander V. Tutukov
(Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
Russian Federation)

Prof. Lev R. Yungelson
(Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
Russian Federation)


Edward Peter Jacobus van den Heuvel was born in Soest, Netherlands on November 2, 1940. Already in high school he was amateur astronomer and in 1957 he started studying mathematics, physics and astronomy at Utrecht University, where he finished his undergraduate research in January 1963 under the guidance of Professor M.G.J. Minnaert. After graduate studies at the Free University, Brussels and Utrecht University, he obtained his PhD in Astronomy at Utrecht University in March 1968, on the thesis “A Study of Stellar Rotation”; advisors: Professors C. de Jager and Anne B. Underhill. In this thesis he already computed the effects of supernova explosions on the orbits of post-mass-exchange binaries.

After a postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. P.S. Conti at Lick Observatory UC Santa Cruz from July 1, 1968-September 1, 1969, he returned to Utrecht University as assistant professor, later lecturer till 1974, when he became full professor of astronomy and director of the Astronomical Institute at the University of Amsterdam. From 1970-1980 he also held a part-time professorship of astrophysics at the Free University, Brussels. From October 1 – December 31, 1974 he was invited visiting member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Among many international activities, he led in the first half year of 1991, together with S.A. Rappaport (MIT), the international research program “Formation and Evolution of Binary and Millisecond Radio Pulsars” at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara, an institute he still often visits. Since 2005 he is emeritus professor of the University of Amsterdam and the Free University, Brussels.

His research is mostly concentrated of stellar (binary) evolution and high-energy astrophysics. He is co-editor or co-author of a dozen books in these fields, and co-author of over 400 scientific publications.

He fulfilled leading positions in Netherlands science: Board member (3 years chair) of the Space Research Organization of the Netherlands SRON (1984-1996); Founding Chair of the Netherlands Research School of Astronomy NOVA (1992-2004); Chair of Netherlands Foundation for Radio Astronomy ASTRON, Dwingeloo (1996-2005; under his chairmanship the Netherlands-government funding for the new large radio telescope LOFAR was secured); Board member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (1987-1996).

He is fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the European Academy of Sciences, Honorary Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences and of the Royal Astronomical Society (UK). For his scientific work he was awarded: the Physica Prize of Netherlands Physical Society (1987); Doctorate Honoris Causa, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium (1994); Spinoza Prize (highest science prize of the Netherlands, 1995); Descartes Prize of the European Commission, Brussels (2002), for leading the European Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglow Collaboration. Invited member of the 1993 and 2014 Solvay Conferences on Astrophysics & Gravitation and Astrophysics & Cosmology, respectively, Brussels.

He was invited lecturer, organizer and co-organizer of many international conferences, workshops and summer schools in the fields of High-Energy Astrophysics and binary evolution. He authored many popular articles and several popular books on astronomy and was founder of the Zeiss Planetarium in the Amsterdam Zoo Artis.


Alexander V. Tutukov was born in Mordovia, Russia on February 6, 1942.

In 1959-1960 he worked at the Saransk Instrumental Factory (Saransk, Mordovia).

In 1966 he graduated from the Physics Faculty of Moscow State University and obtained there his PhD degree in 1969 and later the Dr. hab. degree in Physics and Mathematics.

From 1969 he is a staff-member of the Institute of Astronomy of Russian Academy of Sciences.

From 1967-2018 he published about 470 papers on astronomy. His main interests in astrophysics are stellar evolution, star formation, evolution of galaxies, statistics of stars.

From 1970-1990 he, together with L. Yungelson, derived numerically the birth-function of Galactic binary stars, studied numerically the evolution of close binaries of different masses, and developed a qualitative and quantitative scenario approach to their evolution . This study has helped to estimate numerically the rates of many phenomena associated with binaries and numbers of binary stars in different stages of their evolution. Tutukov and Yungelson have found that components of close binaries frequently merge giving birth to such phenomena and objects as gamma-ray sources, supernovae, R CrB stars, blue stragglers, Thorne-Zytkow objects, gravitational wave radiation sources. A. Tutukov , I, Iben and L. Yungelson suggested several models of SNe Ia progenitors. The merger of binary degenerate dwarfs still remains the most viable model for them.

He estimated the frequency of formation of planetary systems in the Galaxy and developed several scenarios of formation of planetary systems in the course of formation and evolution of single and close binary stars (1987-1994).

Also, he provided arguments that all stars are forming in clusters, most of which are destroyed after a phase of fast gas loss, driven by hydrogen ionization (1978).

In 1991-2006, together with C. Firmany and B. Shustov he developed a numerical model of star formation in disc galaxies based on ionization-limited star formation. It well describes the observed star formation evolution in galaxies with time.

Together with E. Kruegel he proposed a model of periodic star formation bursts in galactic nuclei, driven by gravity and supernova explosions. Such outbursts can be self-induced or a result from collisions of galaxies (1978-1980).

In 2007-2010, together with G. Dremova and V. Dremov, he studied numerically the evolution of galactic clusters and formation of cD galaxies in their centers due to mergers of colliding galaxies.

In 2014-2018, with the same co-authors, he investigated numerically the formation of hypervelocity stars in the course of galactic mergers or collisions of binaries with supermassive black holes. The velocities of expelled compact stars can reach a significant fraction of the speed of light.

In 2018, together with B. Shustov he found that stars, galaxies and their clusters have a universal initial mass function (dN/dM = const./M-2), inhereted from their parental gas clouds.

From1982 through 1984 he worked at the University of Illinois, while he also paid long visits for scientific cooperation to astronomical Institutes in Poland, Germany, Finland, France, Mexico, India, USA.

Through 1980-2013, he was head of the Department of Stellar Physics and Evolution of the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In 2017 he was awarded the I. Shklovskii Prize of the Russian Academy of Sciences (shared with L. Yungelson).


Lev Yungelson was born on September 9, 1946 in Riga (Latvia).

He graduated from Latvian State University in Riga in 1969 and continued his studies at the Astronomical Council of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (now: Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences). He obtained his PhD degree from the Sternberg Astronomical institute of the Moscow University (supervisor: Prof. A.G. Massevich) and later the Dr. hab. degree in Physics and Mathematics from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is a staff member of the Institute of Astronomy from 1972.

He authored (co-authored) more than 250 papers.

His main interests are: evolution of binary stars with particular emphasis on X-ray sources, single and binary neutron stars and black holes, cataclysmic variables, double degenerates, binary nuclei of planetary nebulae, symbiotic stars, products of stellar mergers, as well as occurrence rates of supernovae, novae, gravitational waves outbursts, origin of unique observed objects.

Together with G. Nelemans and S.F. Portegies Zwart, using detailed population synthesis studies, he estimated numerically, for the first time, the gravitational wave signal from the Galactic population of detached and semidetached close binaries in the LISA wave-band and estimated the number of detached and interacting white dwarfs expected to be detected by LISA.

Together with A. Tutukov he suggested the merger of white dwarfs as a possible mechanism for formation of progenitors of SN Ia. He studied the expected rates of SNe Ia and their cosmic history in different scenarios for formation of their progenitors.

He analyzed the possibility of detection of close binary white dwarfs by radial velocity studies and demonstrated the viability of their detection (in 1986, with A. Tutukov). The first close detached binary white dwarf was identified a year later. He participated in observational programs which resulted in the discovery of close binary white dwarfs with total mass close to the Chandrasekhar limit (which are possible SN Ia progenitors - ESO SPY-project), a unique nucleus of a planetary nebula with a massive degenerate companion TS 01, an extragalactic Wolf-Rayet/black hole candidate system in NGC300. He accomplished studies of the origin and evolution of WR/X-ray binaries which made clear the uniqueness of the observed objects of this type (with E. Ergma, E.P.J. van den Heuvel and others).

He analyzed systematically (with L. Piersanti, A. Tornambe, S. Cristalo) the response of CO white dwarfs to accretion of helium-rich matter at different rates and found conditions for thermonuclear flashes of different strength. These results are relevant to exploration of the progenitors of SNe Ia and evolution of AM CVn stars.

Also, he co-authored a study of a unique detached X-ray binary HD 49798/RX J0648.0-4418 with a hot subdwarf donor which resulted in suggestion that in this system, for the first time, as an accretor a young contracting white dwarf is observed.

He actively participates in international scientific cooperations, and was long-time invited visitor at the Copernicus Astronomical Center (Poland), Space Telescope Science Institute (USA), Amsterdam and Nijmegen Universities (The Netherlands), Institute d'Astrophysique (France), Max-Plank Institute for Astrophysics (Germany).

In 2017 he was awarded I. Shklovskii Prize of the Russian Academy of Sciences (shared with A.Tutukov).