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Kaapi with Kuriosity
Varun Bhalerao (IIT Bombay)
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm Monday, 28 February 2022
Zoom meeting and Livestream on ICTS YouTube channel


The universe is a dynamic, wild and wonderful place, replete with exotic objects. Massive stars that have lived for millions of years end their lives in supernovae explosions lasting just weeks. Neutron stars that have orbited each other for billions of years merge together in seconds, creating precious elements like Gold and Silver. Closer to home, near-earth asteroids occasionally whiz past the Earth, threatening to destroy cities or even all of civilisation. Thousands of these still lie undetected. Eight years ago, an international team of astronomers got together to tame the transient sky - to observe, catalogue and study these objects - and better understand this universe we live in. The Indian team, consisting of scientists, technicians, graduate students and a lot of undergrads has setup the country's first fully robotic telescope to scour the skies. In this talk, I will introduce you to this GROWTH-India telescope, tell you its story, and what it has accomplished so far.

About the Speaker:

Varun Bhalerao obtained a B. Tech. in Electrical Engineering at IIT Bombay, followed by a Ph.D. from Caltech in 2012. During his thesis, he worked on NuSTAR - the first focussing hard X-ray telescope - a Caltech / JPL / NASA mission. He also studied High Mass X-ray Binaries with optical and infrared telescopes to measure neutron star masses. As a Vaidya-Raichaudhury Prize Postdoctoral Fellow at IUCAA, Pune, he led the ground calibration of the Cadmium Zinc Telluride Imager on AstroSat - the Indian multi-wavelength space telescope. At IIT Bombay, his group works on the development of GROWTH-India - India's first fully robotic telescope. The group leads the Indian effort in the study of elusive electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave sources. He is a recipient of the Vainu Bappu gold medal - the highest honour given by the Astronomical Society of India. He is also an associate of the Indian Academy of Sciences, and recipient of the DST INSPIRE faculty fellowship. He has been awarded the IIT Bombay Early Research Achiever Award (2019) and the Krithi Ramamritham Award for creative engineering (2019).