Indian Astronomers Report Burst From Rare Black Hole



Indian astronomers have reported one of the strongest flares from a feeding super massive black hole or blazar called BL Lacertae, some 10 million light-years away.

And, the analysis of the flare from this blazar, one of the oldest astronomical objects — can help trace the mass of the black hole and the source of this emission.

This, the team believes can provide a lead to probe into mysteries and trace events at different stages of evolution of the Universe.

A team of astronomers led by Alok Chandra Gupta from the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) had been following the blazar since October 2020 as part of an international observational campaign.

The team detected the exceptionally high flare on January 16, 2021, with the help of Sampurnanand Telescope (ST) and 1.3m Devasthal Fast Optical Telescopes located in Nainital.

“This class of objects is very unique. They have complete electromagnetic emission, that is they emit radiation in all electromagnetic bands ,Radio Waves; Microwaves; Infrared; Visible Light; Ultraviolet (UV); X-Rays and Gamma Rays — which is not something all objects can do. Gamma ray births do this, but they are short lived,” Gupta told TOI.

He said that these objects are most distant, meaning they were formed in the very early stage of universe formation.

“While there are more than a billion agents/sources that astronomers have detected over the years, these objects are very rare. Till date, only about 5,000 blazars are known. And, of these, only about 50 are prominent, allowing continuous/long-term observation,” he added.

According to the department of science and technology (DST), Blazars or feeding supermassive black holes in the heart of distant galaxies receive a lot of attention from the astronomical community because of their complicated emission mechanism.

“They emit jets of charged particles traveling nearly at the speed of light and are one of the most luminous and energetic objects in the Universe,” the DST said.

“BL Lacertae blazar is 10 million light-years away and is among the 50 most prominent blazars that can be observed with the help of a relatively small telescope.

It was among the three to four blazars that was predicted to be experiencing flares by the Whole Earth Blazar Telescope (WEBT), an international consortium of astronomers,” Gupta said.

The data collected from the flare observed will help calculation of the black hole mass, size of emission region, and mechanism of the emission from one of the oldest astronomical objects known, hence opening a door to the origin and evolution of the Universe.

Times of India

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India Celebrates National Science Day



On February 28th, India celebrates the annual National Science Day commemorating Indian physicist C V Raman’s discovery in 1928 of the Raman effect, the scattering of photons or light particles by matter.

India has registered notable advances in the missile, space technology, medicine, IT and many other fields with this former British colony now emerging as a leading country in the comity of nations.

This is a moment to celebrate the progress that India has made in science and technology research, thanks to its science policies.

Science and technology has assumed great significance and the theme for the current year is : Future of STI-Impacts on Education, Skill and Work”.

The event is now organized with seminars, conferences, public debates and discussions in schools, colleges, universities and other academic, scientific, technical, medical and research institutions all over the country.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a top scientist who had served as the 11th President of India in his book “India 2020” had strongly advocated for an Action Plan to develop India into a knowledge superpower and developed nation.

He had worked on high positions in DRDO, ISRO and was popularly known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology as also India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.

India is on the right tract of science and technology highway and it must now go with quick and sure steps.

Key to Advancement The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been underscoring the role of scientific knowledge, technology and innovations through bold initiatives for overall speed development so that India emerges as a safe and super strong nation.

Some positive signals are emerging with leading advanced educational and other institutions already in place coupled with lot of promise, scope and talent .

India has made tangible strides it has still to move forward for transformation of society to attain the status of super power with a mission of working for peace, progress and spiritual enlightenment for humanity.

The report published by the National Science Foundation of the U.S. in December 2019, India was the third largest publisher of peer-reviewed science and engineering journal articles and conference papers, with 135,788 articles in 2018.

This milestone was achieved through an average yearly growth rate of 10.73% from 2008, which was greater than China’s 7.81%.

However, China and the United States had about thrice and twice the number, respectively, of India’s publications.

According to Stanford ranking, hope for Indian science The not-so-good news is that publications from India are not impactful.

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Tanzania Builds Centre of Excellence for Cardiovascular Sciences



Neighbouring Tanzania is propping up a multimillion dollar Centre of Excellence for Cardiovascular Sciences (CoECS)- construction is scheduled for completion in 2021.

According to Prof. Gideon Kwesigabo the Project coordinator, the construction of this facility is about 75% complete. “We expect that by July 2021, construction work will be completed”.

The CoECS is part of the East African Centres of Excellence in Skills Development and Tertiary Education in Biomedical Sciences Project that aims at contributing to development of relevant and highly skilled workforce in Biomedical Sciences to meet the regions labour market needs.

Details also indicate that the main purpose for establishing this facility is to support prevention of cardiovascular diseases, offer treatment and save costs spent on sending patients abroad for heart diseases treatment.

Tanzania has been relying on Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) and it was not enough to serve the entire country and yet it was built to provide treatment only and not to prevent heart diseases.

This new facility is being funded by the government of Tanzania with a soft loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB). The first phase of this project will consume U$ 10.2million.

The first phase of this project will support the creation of a network of CoEs in biomedical sciences and engineering- Nephrology and Urology in Kenya, Oncology in Uganda, Cardiovascular in Tanzania and Biomedical Engineering and e-Health in Rwanda.

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Meet Africa’s Rare Female Astrophysicist Shaking Up Science



Zara Randriamanakoto, 35, PhD is from Madagascar is one of the few female astrophysicists in Africa and one of only two from her country.

This low key scientist is attached to the science division of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), in Cape Town, she is continuing her research to quantify the influence of the surrounding environment on the survival of these star clusters, to measure their brightness and to try to deduce their mass and their age, in order to better understand the mechanism of formation of the universe.

Zara holds a doctorate degree in Astronomy after completing her study at the University of Cape Town back in 2015. Her research interests focus on deep radio continuum surveys and multi-wavelength observations of young massive star clusters in interacting galaxies.  She is also passionate about science engagement, the promotion of Girls and Women in STEM, and especially the advancement of astronomy in all its aspects in Madagascar and the African continent.

She took up astrophysics thanks to the development of the largest radio telescope in the world in South Africa, the researcher hopes to develop her discipline in Madagascar and inspire young women in her country.

This scientist has been awarded by the L’Oréal-Unesco Foundation’s Young Talents Prize – Sub-Saharan Africa winners.

“We finally rewarded a Madagascan astrophysicist, Zara Randriamanakoto, whose objective is to quantify the influence of the surrounding environment on the disruption mechanisms of stellar clusters,” said the L’Oréal-Unesco Foundation.

2020 Sub-Saharan Africa Young Talents:


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