The attraction of gravitational physics

Postdoc Dr. Shrobana Gosh joins the group to work on improving phenomenological waveform models

September 02, 2022

Welcome to the AEI Hannover! You've just arrived a few weeks ago. Have you already found places in Hannover – and maybe its surroundings – you enjoyed visiting?

I have not had much of an opportunity to explore Hannover yet. But I have enjoyed knowing my colleagues, an exceptionally friendly bunch of people! I have also enjoyed learning about a new culture, in a part of the world I have never been before.

Why did you choose to join our institute and group for this phase of your postdoc?

AEI Hannover has a long and substantial history in expertise on gravitational wave data analysis. My interests in improving the accuracy of compact binary coalescence waveform models align well with Dr. Frank Ohme’s research. I look forward to learning new skills and contributing towards the science goals of the gravitational-wave astrophysics community through my association with the group at AEI Hannover.

How did you get into physics in the first place?

I had a slightly unconventional path into physics. In school I enjoyed learning physics the most, because the ability of using mathematical equations to describe nature fascinated me. However, I went for an undergraduate degree in engineering as it is typically a safer route towards a stable career. But I found myself continually attracted towards working on fundamental physics. This motivated me to go for a Masters degree in Physics in Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata.

What made you decide to study this topic?

A key influence in my interest in gravitational physics was Prof. Narayan Banerjee in IISER. During the Masters programme I took a course on general relativity and cosmology taught by Prof. Banerjee, and in that course he introduced us to this completely new theory of gravity (general relativity) that described extraordinary (but natural) objects like black holes. I was very interested to learn more about this topic and therefore decided to pursue a PhD in this field of work.

Where did you go for your PhD studies and your first postdoctoral stay?

I earned a PhD in physics from the University of Mississippi in the United States. Then I went on to work as a research associate in Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. AEI Hannover is the next stop in this exciting journey!

When and how did you start your career in gravitational physics?

This started at the beginning of my PhD. I got the opportunity to work on a fascinating topic : superradiant instabilities of black holes. My work involved using general relativity to treat these instabilities as sources of gravitational waves.

What do you like best about your daily work?

Sometimes thinking about very technical problems related to signal processing or very mathematical issues related to solving an equation can make a problem seem a bit dry. The broader context that my work provides, that at the core of it all it is just us trying to understand the Universe, is definitely a delight. Reading exciting papers always helps to provide that healthy dose of inspiration!

What main topics do you plan to work on during your stay in Hannover?

During my first postdoc I worked on improving the phenomenological models used to detect gravitational waves from binary black hole mergers. Increasing the accuracy of these models increases our ability to uncover astrophysical information about the sources of the signal. Additionally, the versatility of these models can be exploited to estimate deviations from the underlying theory of the models, or to shed light on the nature of the sources. I plan to work on both of these aspects of waveform models during my time here in Hannover.

Are there places you want to go to and visit, or things you want to do, while you're in this part of the world?

I am really interested to visit Berlin as I have heard a lot about how vibrant the city is! I have always wanted to see Austria and hope to be able to travel there while I am here!

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