Career in Astrophysics

The study of the atmosphere and sphere and space is one of the oldest sciences. Space science in India has been growing with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) focusing on moon research and India launching the AstroSat, a multi – wavelength astronomy satellite, next year.

The making of satellites for communication, mapping and education are all part of India’s space research program. ISRO has also made plans for the lunar explorer, Chandrayaan.

The IT revolution has also played a role in augmenting the progress in space science. Space science deals with the human advances towards exploration of outer space and related technology.

It is an amalgamation of various disciplines like, physics, mechanical engineering, materials science, chemistry, biology, medicine, psychology, computer science, and other fields of scientific knowledge.

A sub – field of physics, it is further divided into several branches, which together help unravel the mysteries of the universe. While some take ‘astronomy’ as the umbrella term, some think that ‘Astrophysics’ is the holistic term that encompasses all the related fields.

However, Professor Jayant Murthy, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, clarifies, “Although astronomy and astrophysics were, at one time, considered different from each other, they are now used interchangeably.”

Different Branches in Astrophysics Careers

Astronomy is the scientific study of celestial objects, such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies, and the phenomena that exist beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

Through the use of physics, astronomy explains the evolution of the universe and through sound mathematical simulations it forecasts its development.

Astrophysics deals with the physical properties of celestial bodies and with the interaction between matter and radiation in the interior of celestial bodies and in interstellar space. It can be broken down into observational and theoretical astrophysics. Cosmology is the combination of astrophysics and particle physics.

It is the study of the structure, origin and evolution of the universe. Cosmologists seek to understand how the universe came into being, why it is the way it is and what the future has in store.

Astrochemistry is the combination of astronomy and chemistry, dealing with the chemical composition and evolution of the universe and its parts. It is the study of the chemical elements found in outer space and their interactions.

Astrogeology is the science dealing with the structure and composition of all solid bodies in the solar system, including planets, stars, satellites, asteroids, comets and meteorites.

Astromestrology is the study of the theoretical effects of astronomical bodies and forces on the earth’s atmosphere.

Astrometry is the branch of astronomy that deals with the precise measurement of the positions and motions of the celestial bodies. The information obtained by astrometric measurements is very important in contemporary research of the solar system and our galaxy, the Milky way.

Astrobiology is the study of life beyond the earth’s atmosphere on other planets. It combines aspects of astronomy, geology and biology.

Optical Astronomy is the study of optical band is called optical astronomy. Radio Astronomy the study of the radio band is called Radio astronomy.

The romanticism of space flights and exploration is still alive, but an academic or research oriented career in Astrophysics is yet to attract many.

Youngsters usually connect space research with becoming an astronaut or going to National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) rather than going into space research.

So, besides the love for celestial wonders, one has to have a scientific temperament to do research. Currently, science is facing a shortage of talented youngsters as they are opting for better paying Astrophysics jobs.

However, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will require science and engineering talents, for mission completion and future of these facilities.

Eligibility for Astrophysics Courses

Astrophysics is one field where aptitude is important, as, or perhaps more than academic prowess. The primary requirement is to have a scientific bent of mind and the desire to explore.

If you have curiosity and are interested, half the battle is won-you are already eligible. Other technical necessities include taking up physics and mathematics at the plus two level, as well as during graduation.

For a career in space science, students need to have enough knowledge of physics, maths and engineering techniques in general. Students generally require a BE or B.Sc degree in physics / electronics, etc.

To pursue a career in theoretical astronomy, one can pursue a Bachelor’s in Science in physics and / or mathematics, while in order to pursue a career in experimental astronomy, one can pursue a Bachelor’s in Engineering in electrical / electronics / electrical communication, after ten plus two.

Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST), usually held around February or March, is the screening test for those who want to pursue a PhD in physics, including theoretical and observational astronomy, astrophysics, atmospheric and space science / mathematics / theoretical computer science.

Student with a postgraduate degree in physics or Master’s in Technology in engineering or a Bachelor’s in Engineering, are eligible to appear for JEST. The patterns consist of multiple – choice objective questions, covering general areas in the field of physics. The exam checks for analytical skills.

Knowledge of the subject and ability to tackle the problem. The maximum number of allotted marks is 150, evenly divided among 50 questions with negative marking for wrong answers. The time allotted for exam is 3 hours.

On the basis of JEST Results, institutes call a limited number of candidates receive a Research Fellowship from the respective institutions.

If you are the mechanical engineer, you are the most eligible candidate for making bright future in Astrophysics field. For instance, the study of stellar objects thus require instruments. Building of such instruments require an Engineering background.

One can use a spectrograph to study the spectral lines in the incoming light which will give information about the material. Similarly, the polarization of the stellar light can be measured using a polarimeter. Building of such instruments involves the combined efforts of Mechanical Engineering.

India has many good institutes related to astronomy. It could excel in the international space research field if these institutes had a steady input of quality students. The students should try to enter these as they offer world class facilities for research, which will definitely be useful to all mankind.

The University of Pune, offer M.Sc courses in space science, some of which are sponsored by ISRO.

A new institute has just been started by ISRO in Thiruvananthapuram, which is essentially open to students from IITs. This is aimed not at science, but to train engineers for ISRO’s needs.

There are also several Astrophysics courses, at the end of which, students are awarded with certificates in astronomy. St. Joseph’S and the Birla Institute of Fundamental Research in Banglore only have certificate courses in Astrophysics.

There may be others in other cities and the best place to find out would be the local planetarium. Bangalore University, amongst others, offers an MSc. in Astronomy as does Calicut University.

These also offer, in general, Ph.D programs. Specialized institutes like Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Inter – University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Aries, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, S.N. Bose, as well as Indian Institute of science and a few of the IITs take students for PhD program. IIA takes students with an M.Sc or a BE / BTech.

Though there are many institutions offering postgraduate courses in Astrophysics and facilitating research, there are very few offering undergraduate courses in Astrophysics.

Some of them are DR. Babasahab Ambsedar Marathward University, Aurangabad, Shivaji University, Kolhapur, University of Lucknow, and University of Chennai.

Astrophysics Career Prospects

After having done a course in astronomy, one can be a research scientist with several research institute and government organizations. During the research work, one can receive a monthly stipend ranging from Rupee 8000 – Rupee 9000/-, besides other grants and facilities.

After completing research, employment opportunities with different institutes increase. Various government bodies also employ astronomers as scientists, who are given high salaries with other perks and allowances.

24 thoughts on “Career in Astrophysics

  1. Career in astrophysics gives a chance to know more &more things about wonderful universe.

  2. i have completed my physics in electronicsI .I would like to pursue courses based on astrophysics which will have certain career benefits .kindly assist me?

  3. Respected sir
    Now I am doing Physics in private college. I am fully interested to study ASTROPHYSICS. But I am a below middle class family. I want to study astrophysics In in government Institute.can I study my astrophysics programme in scholarship. how to apply for astrophysics? there is any entrance exam for this course? please guide me?

  4. Hi , i have done btech in mechanical engineering ..worked for 2 years in a manufacturing company and currently preparing for gre . I have an interest in astrophysics since i was a child . How can i get into this field ? Please help me .

  5. hello.i have complete my 12th i am very much intrested in physics but not my parents. so i have join mechanical engineering.please guide me to join astro physics after my BE

  6. i have complete my 12th i am very much intrested in physics but not my parents. so i have join mechanical engineering.please guide me to join astro physics after my BE

  7. Hello, I want to do my career in astrophysics. I’m doing mechanical engg. so what should I do after completing my engineering and what is eligibility for that course

  8. I completed BE in Computer Science , I’m working for a MNC as senior systems engineer, I wish start fresh and to pursue my career in Astro-Physics .
    Is it possible ?
    Will it take me the start to do + / BE from scratch ?
    Please explain me the process .
    I appreciate your help in advance .

  9. I’m a serving officer in Indian army. I’d like to take retirement after 5 years of service. I am interested in astrophysics. I’m a B tech graduate in Information technology. I have a strong passion in this field. Would you please guide me?

  10. sir, please tell me that can astrophysics any future scope or which is the best collage to do astrophysics in INDIA

  11. i am pursuing a in electronics and telecommunication eng.
    i wanna take astropyhics,cosmology….as my future study companions..plzz help me…i am just crazy about these things…i have a very strong passion in these areas

  12. i am in first year of engg in electronics and telecommunication i want to purse career in astrophysics or astronomy what are course offered
    should i complete my B.E. or can i do it after 1 st year

  13. i am interested in a career in astrophysics after electronics and communication engineering….plz guide me…..

  14. Iam going to take up my +2 exams very soon and i’m very much interested in astrophysics.PLEASE GUIDE ME on what course to take up after school

  15. I WOULD LIKE TO DO MY CAREER IN ASTROPHYSICS BECAUSE i do my career scientist in such a field

  16. Hello i’ve just finished my 10+2 exams and heading towards undergraduate course.I’m interested in astrophysics.I needed a guidance reagarding what course in engineering to take up,mech.,/E&E/aerospace eng.???….which one is a good way to start?? please help

  17. hello,
    i am pursuing B.Sc final year. is there any option for doing physics from isro or iiser institutes????????

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