Pune: “There is no start or end of the universe. It is the oscillation which either increases or decreases it. The cycle of life and death keeps happening and it is the stars that produce radiations,” said senior scientist Prof Jayant Narlikar while answering a question ‘What is our understanding of how the universe was formed?’ During a session ‘Ask a Scientist’ organised on the occasion of National Science Day at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) on Wednesday.
“Then, there is this popular theory of the origin of the universe which is Big Bang theory. And according to it, universe started from one point at a certain time with certain speed. The age of the universe approximately would be 13 or14 billion years,” said IUCAA Director Prof Somak Raychaudhury while replying to the same question. “We both have different opinions on the formation of the universe,” he added.
Samir Dhurde, in-charge, Science Outreach Programme at IUCAA hosted the programme. While replying to the question of which is the nearest black hole to earth, Prof Raychaudhury first cleared the doubt and false theories floating in the society that black holes would swallow earth and mankind. He said, “There are two types of black holes and every galaxy has them. These black holes are massive in size and the nearest black hole to the earth is 20,000 light years. We could recognise them due to their magnetic field.
LIGO detector and gravitational waves have occupied the minds of people and it was no novel when there were several questions asked related to it. Among many, a few questions were: What are the advantages of LIGO for our future? Can we built it on other planets and will it benefit us?
Replying to these questions, Narlikar said, “We can find new resources in cosmic with the help of this LIGO detector. Besides that, it will also help us in the observations of cosmic microwave background to understand earth. India will play a major role in coming years in this field.”
Raychaudhury said, “It helps us in knowing the accurate directionality. Though, in this lifetime, it is not possible to build it on other planets as we do not have the technology. We are building the third detector which will be installed in India and it will take eight years. So if we want to take it to other planets, calculate how much time we will need? So currently, it is impossible to take it to other planets.”
Replying to the question: what is the purpose of IUCAA? Prof Narlikar said, “The very name suggests that it is used for shared research which otherwise will be difficult for one individual to do. Similarly, there are a few institutions in the country that conduct courses in astronomy or astrophysics, but it has been in great demand in the world. So there was a need to have such a institute which will help to do research in these two streams.”
The last question was regarding the career options in astrophysics and astronomy and Raychaudhury said, “If the last century saw the emergence of various branches of particle or nuclear physics, this century will see the emergence of astrophysics, nano or biophysics. But to pursue a career in this field, students must learn basic mathematics or physics.”