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On Sunday, February 12th, 2017, Prof. Egidio Landi Degl’Innocenti unexpectedly died of a heart attack in his home in Florence, Italy. Egidio had just returned from a scientific visit to the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Spain, working with one of us (JTB). There he also spent his last birthday. He had just turned 72 on January 25th.
His sudden death is a crushing event, not only for his family – his mother, his wife of almost fifty years, Nadine, his daughter Vanessa, and his brother (and old-time collaborator) Maurizio –, his friends, and his closest collaborators, but also for the world-wide Solar Physics community. Egidio’s death represents the loss of an extremely bright intellect that contributed a tremendous lot to the field of solar and astrophysical spectro-polarimetry, and who would have kept enlightening all of us in the years ahead, had he had a chance to live longer. Despite having officially retired at the end of 2015, Egidio kept actively working in the field, going back to very fundamental problems of polarized line formation and radiative transfer, often proposing completely novel and ground-breaking approaches, relying as always on his solid understanding of fundamental physics and on his scientific intellect and intuition.
Egidio was a long-time collaborator of the High Altitude Observatory, his first appointment as a visiting scientist here dating back to 1978. He had visited many times since. He had a full year of planned scientific visits ahead, among these a two-month stay in Kunming, China, in the spring, and another three-month stay in Boulder working at NSO and CU, which would have started in August this year. His friends and collaborators at HAO and NSO where very much looking forward to discussing science with him, and simply enjoy his presence. Despite his stature as a scientist, Egidio was an extremely humble, unpretentious, and amicable person, always ready to offer his unconditional help and his physical intuition and knowledge to the service of the scientific community. His pupils, collaborators, and colleagues owe him tremendously for the large amount of pioneering work he has left us with, and upon which we keep producing new scientific results, and building novel theoretical, modeling, and interpretational capabilities for polarized radiative transfer, to face the new exciting challenges that the next generation of solar telescopes will present us with, and which unfortunately Egidio will not be able to witness.
Thank you, Egidio!
Roberto Casini, Senior Scientist, HAO-NCAR
Javier Trujillo Bueno, CSIC Research Professor, IAC, and HAO-NCAR Affiliate Scientist