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Understanding the Sun 

ISP Delhi Bureau 

An Astrophysicist from Golaghat in Assam is doing something unique which shall impact the health of our planet. Dr. Sudeshna Boro Saikia investigates  the qualities of the Sun, the star which makes Earth livable and is the source of energy for the creatures. She is documenting the features which make Sun different from other stars. Her work is unravelling the mysteries of the cosmos and helping scientists tame the developments beforehand. 

Featured in SciRio, a leading Indian platform for science communication, Saikia narrates her journey from her hometown in Assam to the world’s one of the best universities in Vienna. Her work is helping understand the life sustaining capacity of earth and its star Sun. 

Currently pursuing her advanced research from the Institute for Astrophysics (IAU) in Vienna, Saikia specialises in the study of space weather to uncover the clues which makes Earth habitable and the atmospheric conditions which are helping in the process. Her work at the European laboratory is a matter of pride for India and its academic and scientific community.   

Sudeshna’s keen interest in the topic of Sun and its magnetic field began with her PhD work which was around the stellar magnetic cycles which she completed successfully from the Georg August University of Göttingen in Germany. Stars are largely made of gas and plasma that constantly move to create a magnetic field. The magnetic field of a star often changes polarity in cycles and these polarity changes are accompanied by violent storms and volatile activity in the stars. This phenomenon is true for the Sun too and it invokes the health impact of the planet Earth and other objects around it. 

SciRio reports that every eleven years or so, the magnetic field flips and the North and South poles of the Sun switch. These changes on the Sun’s surface have an effect on the Earth too. Volatile activity on the Sun’s surface may cause disruptions to electrical grids and radio on Earth and damage satellites, limiting their lifetime. This phenomenon also results in exposure to harmful radiation for the astronauts in space. Study of solar cycles by scientists like Saikia can forecast disruptions in time and safeguard satellites and astronauts in space.

Sudeshna acknowledges one of the largest influences in her career has been a professor at Glasgow who helped her apply for PhD positions during her postgraduate study. She is part of multiple working groups for young researchers at IAU. One of these is building a platform for young researchers to unite and work together. Sudeshna feels there is good hope for the future of Science in India owing to its bright talent pool. 

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