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A New Effort to Bring Astronomy and People Closer

A New Effort to Bring Astronomy and People Closer

Instruments of the ASTROSAT being inspected at the ISRO Satellite Centre. Credit: ISRO

New Delhi: The Public Outreach and Education Committee (POEC) of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI) and the Astrosat Training and Outreach Team is set to add a new feature to its year-old campaign to bring the Astrosat space observatory closer to the general public.

The ASI and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have decided to publish popular science reports every month on research papers published by scientists on their work using instruments onboard the observatory. This will be in addition to the monthly release of Astrosat images under the ‘Astrosat Picture of the Month’ (APOM) initiative.

Speaking to India Science Wire, Niruj Mohan Ramanujam, a member of the ASI POEC, said students from across the country have been following the images with curiosity and interest. With the new feature to be introduced from next month, they will also get a closer view of the research that the observatory has enabled.

Astrosat is India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory. It was launched by ISRO on September 28, 2015. It has five telescopes, four of which can look at the same part of the sky simultaneously, giving astronomers a unique opportunity to observe cosmic objects in ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays at once.

Astronomers have been using these instruments to study diverse celestial phenomena in galaxies, exploding stars, neutron stars and black holes. These studies have enabled them to investigate the nature of matter at extremely high temperatures, under the influence of strong magnetic fields and sometimes in very energetic environments.

Each APOM features a picture, accompanied by a short text explaining why the image is interesting. Readers are encouraged to go further and learn more about the concepts mentioned through various links that are provided. Over the last year, APOM has featured ultraviolet images of star clusters and remnants of supernova explosions in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. It has covered galaxies that are interacting with each other, including those that are merging together.

All the images in APOM have been taken from research papers published in astronomy journals. The accompanying text is at a level aimed at school-going students.

Sunderarajan Padmanabhan writes for India Science Wire and tweets at @ndpsr.

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