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Indian researchers win awards at global astronomy meet in South Korea

International Astronomical Union General Assembly in Busan concludes on Thursday

image-from-Hubble-Space-stars-nasa Image from Hubble Space | NASA

Indian astronomers have won awards for their studies on various aspects of the sun at the ongoing International Astronomical Union General Assembly in Busan in South Korea.

Prantika Bhowmik of the Center of Excellence in Space Sciences India at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Kolkata won the PhD at Large Prize of the International Astronomical Union for her thesis predicting the future activity of the sun based on novel computational methods.

Reetika Joshi of Kumaun University and Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital won a best thesis award for her observations of plasma jets in the sun's atmosphere which sustain the surprisingly hot million degree solar outer atmosphere.

Gopal Hazra of the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) won a best PhD thesis award for his work on the development of three dimensional computational models of the solar sunspot cycle.

Souvik Bose, who did his MTech thesis at Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru and subsequently his PhD at University of Oslo, won the best thesis award for his contributions to understanding the origin of chromospheric spicules which play a role in driving the sun's plasma winds.

This is proof of the high quality work coming out from India in recent years in understanding the sun and its impact on our space environment, said Dipankar Banerjee, the president of the Astronomical Society of India.

The IAUGA which began in Busan, South Korea on August 2 concludes on Thursday.

Publications in many internationally acclaimed journals following years of hard work were one of the most satisfactory feelings as a young researcher. But when I was informed that I have won the PhD at Large Prize, I felt ecstatic to be recognised by the international community, Bhowmik said.

Being from a small town and after passing through a lot of hurdles, it feels amazing when I see that my thesis work got recognised internationally from experts in the astrophysics community, said Hazra, who hails from Berhampore in West Bengal.

Joshi was overwhelmed to get an award for her PhD thesis at IAUGA.

This award not only gives me recognition around the world, but it also provides me with an extraordinary platform for my scientific future, she said.

India had for the first time set up a booth at the IAUGA showcasing opportunities to pursue research in astronomy in different parts of the country.

The India pavilion brings focus of the world community to major homegrown Indian facilities like the Giant Metre-wave Radio Telescope near Pune, the Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle, Ladakh, the Devasthal Optical Telescope, the Kodaikanal and Udaipur Solar Observatories, said Dibyendu Nandi, the chairperson of IISER's Public Outreach and Education Committee.

The fruits of the investments in astronomy by the government and the major impact it has had on human resource development in astronomy and astrophysics is becoming apparent in the globally competitive research work by Indian students, Nandi said in a statement.