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To Infinity and Beyond—Webinar by The Astronomy Club

On 25th October 2018, space and astrophysics enthusiasts filled AB5 316 to the brim for The Astronomy Club’s first ticketed event of the semester—a webinar by Dr Varun Bhalerao, a leading Research Scientist at LIGO.

The professor started by explaining the physics behind the formation of black holes, mergers, and gravitational waves. Furthermore, he went on to talk about the gravitational waves emitted by the neutron star merger and the various instruments and observatories in India and around the world that aided its discovery. Speaking of LIGO India, he said that the country’s location played a significant role in its selection as one of the only three nations to house a LIGO observatory. Moreover, the new observatory in India would improve wave-source localisation accuracy by 100%. He further added that the venture would provide opportunities to students and professionals across fields, and would not just be restricted to astrophysics. In spite of the technical nature of the talk, the professor managed to grasp the audience’s undivided attention throughout his speech with multiple pop-culture references and crystal clear explanations of extremely complex phenomena.

Dr Varun Bhalero (Image Source: Indian Institute of Technology Bombay)

He went on to highlight India’s advances in space technology, such as the AstroSAT satellite and the country’s first fully robotic telescope in Ladakh. However, he expressed disdain towards the fact that most of these developments remained obscure due to lack of media coverage. Moreover, he spoke about the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH), an international collaboration that observes cosmic phenomena from 18 different observatories around the world. The Girawali Observatory-IUCAA in India also participates in GROWTH.

The talk was followed by a brief Q&A session in which Dr Bhalerao took questions from the audience.  The event was incredibly informative and successfully shed light on the progress of astronomy and space observation in India and the scope for a career in astronomy in the future.

Featured Image: The Indian Astronomical Observatory at Hanle, Ladakh (Image Source: The Better India)