18 year-old secondary school student, Shyamal Patel of Baroda High School, Alkapuri, Vadodara has been declared the winner of the ‘Be an INTEGRAL astronomer’ competition.
This competition was organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) in August this year as a part of the celebrations of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) 2009. The participants were categorised as secondary students and University undergraduates and hailed from many countries. Michelle Knights, from Rhodes University, South Africa, was chosen winner amongst University undergraduates.
Vaidehi Sharan Paliya, Banaras Hindu University, was a runner up in this category.
ESA’s INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) is the most sensitive gamma-ray space observatory ever launched. It has been making groundbreaking observations of the most energetic objects in the Universe since its launch in October 2002. In the competition students were presented with data from INTEGRAL and asked to study the Galactic Bulge, one of the most active regions at the heart of our Galaxy.
Entrants were required to perform research tasks using INTEGRAL data of variable X-ray sources. The tasks included interpreting the data, searching for evidence of variability and then writing a report on their research. The competition entries were judged by an expert panel comprising ESA scientists.
Shyamal is a keen amateur astronomer who has participated in several activities to promote and increase awareness of astronomy, including a workshop for school students organised by AAAV during the total solar eclipse of 22 July 2009.
He was previously the winner of an ASI and ISRO sponsored student competition to attend the 2007 International Astronautical Congress. “My interest in the field of astronomy always keeps me excited to explore our Universe,” said Shyamal. ”
(The) ‘Be an Integral Astronomer’ competition gave me an opportunity and motivation to work, explore and understand the high energy Universe.
” Prof. Ranjeev Misra of IUCAA, Pune – said ” I highly appreciate the hard work put in by Shaymal, Vaidehi and the others. I am very heartened to know that young Indian students are leading in international competitions in advanced subjects like Astronomy. I hope the winners will go on to be professionals by taking up Science and that they will set examples for others to try out this fascinating subject. ”
ESA Official Press release…