10 December 2018

K. G. Arun, professor of physics at the Chennai Mathematical Institute and an ICTS associate faculty member was awarded the Swarnajayanti Fellowship in the physical sciences for 2017-18. The Swarnajayanti Fellowship was instituted to commemorate India's fiftieth year of Independence. Under this scheme, a selected number of young scientists are provided special assistance and support for a period of 5 years, to enable them to pursue innovative research idea which can have a huge impact in the respective research discipline.

“I feel very honored to be a recipient of this fellowship. This is also a recognition for the intense research activities in the field of gravitational wave science that is happening in India”, says Dr. Arun.

Dr. Arun is an expert in Gravitational Wave Astronomy and was awarded the fellowship for his proposal to use the gravitational wave observations to address some of the open problems in fundamental physics and astrophysics. Gravitational waves from mergers of black hole or neutron star binaries carry unique imprints of the underlying theory of gravity. Hence, they can be used to test the validity of Einstein’s theory of gravity in such extreme gravitational fields. They also encode information about the nature of the compact objects. For example, if the binaries consist of some exotic stars which can mimic the properties of black holes, the resulting waveforms will be different.  The proposal consists of novel ways of looking for departures from Einstein’s general relativity and signatures of exotic physics using future gravitational wave observations. On the astrophysical front, the proposal aims to use future observations to closely understand the formation mechanisms of binary black holes and neutron stars which have deep connections to several unknown aspects of stellar physics.

For the past several years, Dr Arun have been working on developing methods to test general relativity using gravitational waves some of which have already been applied on the gravitational wave data.

“My association with the Astrophysical relativity group at ICTS-TIFR over the past few years has been extremely productive. In fact, some of the proposed research are going to be carried out in collaboration with the group”, says Dr. Arun.

“Arun’s group at CMI has been working on the forefront of gravitational-wave probes of strong gravity. His research, supported by this Fellowship, is expected to produce some very interesting results from upcoming observations of LIGO and Virgo”, said Dr. P. Ajith, faculty member at ICTS. 

Dr. Arun joins 13 other 2018 Swarnajayanti fellows. More information is available here, including a full list of 2018 Swarnajayanti fellowship awardees.