Anjana Ashok

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

What is your current position at our institute?

I am a final year PhD student in the independent research group “Continuous Gravitational Waves.”

How and when did you choose to do physics?

As an 8 year old, I was hooked by the picture book on space that my aunt gifted me. It all seemed very mysterious. I decided I wanted to go there. Couple of years later, I figured out that ‘going’ there is a feat of physical endurance which I was not interested in. Being an ‘astronomer’ looked more satisfying than being an ‘astronaut’. This plan lived on in the back of my mind, when senior school physics interested me. From there it was all a clear path, physics in college, physics in university and now a PhD where I (try to) do astronomy using 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 detections of gravitational waves emitted from the merger of binary systems. There are more types of gravitational waves awaiting their first detection on earth. One amongst these is a  ‘continuous gravitational wave'. They are persistent and monochromatic. We expect emission from isolated compact objects, for instance, rotating, bumpy neutron stars. My Ph.D work is centered around the searches for these continuous gravitational waves from recently discovered millisecond pulsars.

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

Some of the results of my research can be summarized in this figure. It shows the upper limits on continuous gravitational-wave amplitude for several newly discovered pulsars that I targeted.

The searches and results are published in the following:

  1. The TRAPUM L-band survey for pulsars in Fermi-LAT gamma-ray sources
  2. New Searches for Continuous Gravitational Waves from Seven Fast Pulsars
  3. Discovery of a Gamma-Ray Black Widow Pulsar by GPU-accelerated Einstein@Home

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

AEI Hannover is one of the most productive research centres in gravitational-wave astronomy today and hosts a high density of leading scientists in the field whose scientific training is valuable.  Furthermore, amongst the different PhD offers I had, it was the one from the 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'. Four years later, I am still glad that I chose to do my PhD here.

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