We are delighted to welcome, Professor Archana Pai to the IIT Bombay family. She joined the Department of Physics of IIT-B last year.
She completed her M.Sc. in Physics from IIT Bombay and later received her Ph.D in Physics from IUCAA, Pune. Over the past years, Prof. Pai has worked as the Henri Poincare Fellow at the Observatory of Nice, France, and as INFN fellow at La Sapienza, Rome, Italy. She has been an assistant professor and later, associate professor in School of Physics, IISER-TVM and is now an associate professor at IIT-Bombay.
Her research interests include Gravitational Wave Astrophysics and Statistical Signal Processing.
While explaining about her work, Professor Pai stated that the era of gravitational wave astronomy has just begun with a spectacular detection of gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger located at 1.3 billion light years away by two optical laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors located in USA (the LIGO project) in the year 2015. Since then, LIGO and French-Italian Virgo project together have detected several black hole binaries. The gravitational wave discovery received a Nobel Prize in Physics in the year 2017. The group at Physics department is a member of LIGO Scientific Collaboration. We expect that with upcoming observational run of LIGO and Virgo, we should observe many more binary black mergers in our Universe which will shine light on the distribution of black hole mass distribution as well as spin distribution. It will also shine light on various formation channels for the black holes and binaries. In addition to the black hole merger, the LIGO-Virgo detectors observed the first merger of binary Neutron star event in August 2017. The discovery of this event unravelled many science questions such as the source of heavier elements such as gold and platinum in our Universe. The merger event produced a large amount of these elements.
When asked about her future plans, the professor mentioned that the new Era of gravitational wave astronomy has begun which is expected to complement the electromagnetic window of the Universe. She works on gravitational wave astrophysics. After the detection of gravitational waves, the Indian LIGO received approval to be built and it’s expected that in next decade, a global network of ground based detectors will start operating and detect a large number of gravitational wave events. Her aim is to develop techniques to detect such events from the data and address questions related to mass distribution, test Einstein's GR as well as learn about the underlying source from gravitational wave observations. India is getting involved in many astronomy projects such as Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), Square Km Array (SKA), LIGO-India, Astrosat etc. It is a golden time for the undergraduates to get directly involved in these projects.
Professor Pai holds the opinion that the classroom teaching is all for the students. She believes that students are the one who should get best out of it. Hence, engaging them is more important than lecturing them. In her class, she would always give small calculations for them or leave out couple of steps for them to figure out after the class. From time to time, she would take feedback from them and ask them to chalk down what they have and haven’t understood which helps her to get a global feedback.
In her free time, Professor Archana Pai likes reading and music. She enjoys visiting different places, countries and spending time to study their culture.