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Scotland ties up with India to study the Sun

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Astronomers from Scotland and India are working together to study eruptions on the Sun that affect a wide range of space-based technologies used routinely in daily life, including satellite communication and GPS systems.

The collaboration is a result of the renewal of an agreement between University of Glasgow and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune (IISER-Pune).

"It is exciting to see the development of the relationship with IISER-Pune exemplifying the principle of building sustainable and mutually beneficial international partnerships," said Prof Vivienne Baumfield, the International Dean for South Asia at the University of Glasgow.

Scientists in astronomy and astrophysics from the two universities are international leaders in studying the Sun, using ground and space-based observations.

The Glasgow group has been working with X-ray observations of the Sun, notably with the award-winning NASA mission RHESSI (Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager), whose primary mission is to explore the basic physics of particle acceleration and explosive energy release in solar flares.

This research complements radio studies of the Sun, which are being conducted in Pune.

"IISER has close connections with the radio astrophysics group of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and with the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, both of which are located in Pune.

"The links between Glasgow and Pune will ensure that astronomers at the University of Glasgow will be connected to the best Indian astronomy programmes," said Dr Eduard Kontar, a member of the Astronomy Group at the University of Glasgow.

Prasad Subramanian, an associate professor of Physics at IISER Pune, who is currently visiting the Glasgow Astronomy Group, added: "We have identified a few areas of mutual interest where our groups have complementary expertise, and look forward to a productive collaboration.

"The focus will be on physical processes underlying transients in the corona and the solar wind, which affect near-Earth space environment."

Both groups have a particular interest in eruptive solar activity -- complex phenomena which govern conditions in outer space and which affect a wide range of space-based technologies which are used routinely in daily life.

These include satellite communication and GPS systems.

The study of eruptive solar activity is a high priority research area for solar system science for both the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, the US Government's National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The two institutions have been working together for over five years, having been selected to take part in a government sponsored scheme to promote collaboration between leading research institutions in the UK and in India.

First Published: Fri, July 31 2015. 21:02 IST