Anjana Ashok

PhD student in the independent research group “Searching for Continuous Gravitational Waves”

What is your current position at our institute?

I am a first-year PhD student in the independent research group “Searching for Continuous Gravitational Waves”

What is your academic education?

  • Bachelors in Physics - 2012-2015, Government Arts and Science College, Calicut, Kerala, India, Affiliated to University of Calicut
  • Masters in Physics - 2015-2017, National Institute of Technology Karnataka, India

What were your previous academic positions?

  • Undergraduate Associate, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, India.  2014-2015
  • Junior Research Fellow on a DST (Department of Science and Techonology, India) funded project, on "Physics of radio bright Gamma-Ray Burst afterglows”. January-June 2018, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology.

Can you please describe your research?

Gravitational-wave astronomy is a reality today. So far we have had several events where gravitational waves were emitted from the merger of binary systems, these have become commonplace. There are more types of gravitational waves, waiting their first detection on earth. One amongst these are continuous gravitational waves. They are persistent and monochromatic. We expect emission from compact objects from, for instance, bumpy neutron stars. My Ph.D work is centered around the searches for these Continuous Gravitational Waves.

Do you have a favourite figure to illustrate your current research?

Results from a mismatch study in continuous gravitational-wave searches.

In the search for gravitational waves, in reality we do not have a continuous template family. Our parameter spaces are made of discrete points. A true signal might not match exactly with any of these discrete templates. Such mismatches can lead to a loss of signal to noise ratio. We should understand the mismatches introduced into the search by the template grid we use for the purpose. This is achieved by carrying out a large number of signal injections and recovering them using the grid of interest. The figure is from such a study, where a grid set-up in frequency-spin down parameter space is tested for mismatch.

Why did you choose the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics for your research?

By the end of my Bachelors, I knew I wanted to go ahead in Physics, researching and finding new things. Towards the middle of my Masters, I knew I wanted to focus in Gravitational Wave Astronomy. AEI is an institute dedicated entirely to gravitational physics. The experimental group's work ends up in detectors or related experiments. And the observational/theoretical wing (of the Hannover institute) is focussed entirely on gravitational-wave astronomy. I wanted to work amidst a focussed environment like this. 

AEI Hannover is one amongst the most productive institutes working in gravitational-wave astronomy, with a high density of leading scientists of the field. Also, amongst the different PhD offers I had, it was the one from Max Planck Institute of Gravitational Physics that caught my imagination, because it carried the possibility of an adventurous time ‘trying to detect the yet-undetected’.

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