Colloquium Sarbani Basu: Learning physics through astronomy – the Sun and Stars as laboratories
By Sarbani Basu, Department of Astronomy, Yale University, USA
We normally rely on physics to interpret and understand astrophysical processes. However, with precise seismic data from the Sun and other stars, we can use astrophysics to inform us about the physical properties of stellar matter, and in some cases inform us even about fundamental physics.
In this talk I shall describe how we use seismic data to study properties of matter. I shall also touch up how solar and stellar data have been used to put constrains on fundamental physics, such as the time variation of the gravitational constant.
Sarbani Basu is the William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Astronomy at Yale University, USA.
Prof. Basu was educated in India. She obtained her Ph.D. in 1993 from the University of Mumbai for work done at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Subsequently, she did her postdoctoral work in helioseismology. She was a post-doc at the Queen Mary & Westfield College, London, and University of Aarhus, Denmark before moving to the US in 1997 to join the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. She joined Yale University in 2000. She chaired the Department of Astronomy from 2016-2022.
Prof. Basu conducts research in the fields of solar and stellar astrophysics using seismic data. She has been studying both the general properties and the details of the structure and dynamics of the Sun, focusing on solar-cycle dependences. Her interest in putting the Sun in a general astronomical context has led her to use asteroseismic data obtained by the Kepler and TESS spacecrafts to study other stars. She has published over 290 peer-reviewed articles and a full-length book. Her work has garnered more than 25,000 citations. Her papers can be found linked to her website at http://campuspress.yale.edu/sarbanibasu/
Prof. Basu has won several awards and accolades. She received the Vainu Bappu Gold Medal of the Astronomical Society of India in 1996 for her early work on helioseismology. In 2018, she was awarded the George Ellery Hale award of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society for her contributions to the understanding of the internal structure and dynamics of the Sun and stars. Her other achievements include the US National Science Foundation’s CAREER award in 2004, being elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2015 and being elected to be among the inaugural batch of Fellows of the American Astronomical Society in 2020.