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A Career in Astrophysics
Sheer curiosity is inspiring rapid progress in astronomy and astrophysics even now. Thanks to the advances in technology, the astronomer now has at his disposal observing facilities that would have been considered impossible a few decades ago. Conversely, astronomical challenges inspire technology to scale greater heights, thus yielding greater dividends all round.
Curiosity about cosmo is fine…but how can it be satisfied? This is where ‘astrophysics’ comes in: the subject that represents man’s attempt to provide rational interpretation of cosmic phenomena in terms of the known laws of science, of physics in particular.
Astronomy & Astrophysics (A &A) is taught as special courses in the M.Sc. programmes of the Physics or Mathematics departments in universities or colleges. It is, therefore , desirable for a student to acquire proficiency in physics and mathematics at the graduate level and then opt for A & A specialization or an engineer with a B.Tech. or B.E. degree, but with aptitude for A & A, can also enter the field as a research scholar.
It is not necessary to go through a formal training in A & A at the undergraduate level but it helps if the student has developed a general interest in the field from reading good popular books or as an amateur astronomer. Research scholars in A & A are expected to undergo one year of corse work in various subjects including foundations of classical and quantum, physics, mathematical techniques, numerical analysis and computing, besides introductory courses in A& A. A good Ph. D programme takes about four years to complete.
With A & A on a growth curve, there is at present an acute need for young scientists to enter into the field. So, for a physics/ mathematics/ engineering graduate with a specialization or a Ph.D. in A &A the following possibilities are open for a career:
Research Scientists: There are several research institutes and Government organizations that employ research scientists in various academic grades for research oriented programmes.
University faculty: It is expected that the interest in A& A teaching and research in the universities will grow rapidly in the years to come: for it is in the universities that we may expect to find scientists of the future. There will, therefore, be more openings in the universities, especially in physics departments, for specialist in A &A.
Industry: Experience with increasingly sophisticated astronomical instrumentation and expertise gained in computer programming and handling data can serve as valuable assets for jobs in industry. Engineers who have worked in astronomical facilities, as well as astronomers, have had highly successful careers in various industrial & technological organizations.
The opportunities for A & A study lie both in the universities and in autonomous research institutes.
(I) Universities: The universities that offer A & A specialization at M.Sc. and, in some cases, a Ph. D. programme are:
(II) Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics; Pune
(III) Joint Astronomy Programme (JAP), Indian Institute of Science,
(IV) Autonomous Research Institute and Laboratories
(V) Vacation Students Research Programmes ( VSRP)
(VI) Space Programme
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