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The Astronomy & Astrophysics group at the Raman Research Institute has members whose emphasis ranges from theoretical astrophysics through observational astronomy to builders of specialized instruments. While the members pursue their professional research interests, in their fields of specialization, collaborations are often spawned naturally by the many body interactions and these lead to joint pursuit of problems in theory, observations, as well as joint development of specialized telescope systems. The collaborations are certainly not confined to within group members; in fact, most joint research publications of the group involve members of research groups based in other institutions both in India and overseas. The policy has been to encourage world-wide collaborations and allow for members to team up their skills with members – both within and outside the Institute - with complementary expertise. There has been no attempt to collectively focus the group research in specific areas or target appointments towards building strength in chosen fields.

The members of the group with orientation towards theory are versatile and broad in their astrophysics interest and professional research. They have tended to move over time into new areas and take on astrophysics problems without a long term strategy, playing it by the ear so to speak. This has been viewed as the strength of the group, in that the members have been open to engage in intense discussions with colleagues and visitors, often naturally leading to new collaborations and sometimes leading to joint work on astrophysical observations and phenomenology with astronomers. The broad spectrum research interest of the theorists is deemed appropriate for the group, which does not aim to pursue astrophysics collectively targeting specific phenomena or wavelengths.

The astronomers in the group have observed phenomena across the electromagnetic spectrum, targeting compact and diffuse objects in the galaxy, galaxies, groups and clusters of galaxies and the diffuse gas – both molecular and atomic – in the interstellar medium and in external galaxies. The Institute develops instruments; both stand-alone as well as special-purpose receivers that may add value to facilities and allow new and specific astronomy research. The experience of the group is primarily in radio astronomy, specifically long wavelength astronomy; however, the group has members with expertise in mm wavelengths, optical and X-ray instrumentation.

The group intends to continue with its diverse interests, individually pursuing problems in which the individual interests, strengths and backgrounds lie, while continuing to engage in collaborative research. Experimental development of niche instruments for Radio, mm-wavelength and X-ray astronomy are on-going activities.

A major collective initiative, that is expected to engage a significant number of the astronomers, is the design and development of compact feed arrays. The technology is relevant for wave-front sensing over a wide-band at (or near) focal planes of shaped reflectors as well as for realizing broad-band arrays laid on the ground and looking up. A common enabling ability made possible in these two cases would be wide-field radio observations: this has science value in imaging of the radio sky with high surface-brightness sensitivity as well as wide-field surveying, detection and monitoring of radio transients, which is an emerging field with rich astrophysics. The intellectual effort towards instrument design, development of algorithms for realizing quality data products, and the eventual data from the planned experimental activity are expected to be of relevance to the research interests of a majority of the group members. It is intended that the futuristic initiative might serve as a meeting point for the group – including the members inclined towards theory and experiments – to a common activity that is perceived to be in the professional self interest of the members, and might potentially lead to collaborative science outcomes.
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