Four Indian researchers were among the seven international students who bagged top awards for their PhD work at the 31st International Astronomical Union (IAU) meet at Busan, South Korea.
All four researchers specialise in solar physics. Prantika Bhowmik from Centre of Excellence in Space Sciences India at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata; Gopal Hazra of the Indian Institute of Sciences and Souvik Bose, formerly with the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru and Reetika Joshi from Kumaun University and Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences, Nainital claimed the top honours.
“It is rare for a country to win so many PhD thesis awards at a global forum. Even more rare is that the prizes are in the field of solar physics. This is proof of high quality work to understand the Sun and its impact on the space environment being done in India in recent years,” said Professor Dipankar Banerjee, president, Astronomical Society of India.
The meet, which concludes on Thursday, saw India host its maiden pavilion at an IAU meet.
At its inauguration by Debra Elmegreen, president, IAU, the Indian contingent presented a plaque signifying the permanent display of the Indian astronomical facilities at the IAU’s headquarters in Paris, France.
The pavillion showcased all major indigenously developed astronomical facilities and telescopes, including the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in Pune, the Devasthal Optical Telescope in Nainital, the Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle and solar observatories in Udaipur and Kodaikanal. Besides, space-based missions such as ‘Chandrayaan’ and ‘Astrosat’, besides the upcoming space-astro missions such as ‘Aditya L1’, ‘Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) India’, the ‘Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT)’ and the ‘Square Metre Array (SKA)’ were also featured.