Tuesday, 27th January 2015

Doctoral thesis of Nepali scientist receives prestigious Australian physics award

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A Nepali scientist, who was previously involved in a research that showed that the Milky Way (Earth's home galaxy) is on a 'diet' and is a lot slimmer than we previously thought, has been awarded “Postgraduate Excellence in Physics 2013” by NSW-Australia Insititute of Physics for his doctoral thesis.

Prajwal Kafle, a PhD candidate at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIFA), School of Physics was presented the award for his PhD thesis titled, “The Light and Dark Side of the Milky Way Galaxy", which was earlier nominated as the best PhD Thesis by The University of Sydney.

This is equivalent (because unlike undergraduate PhD is never marked hence it is ranked qualitatively) to the university gold medal.

“The formation and evolution of galaxies is one of the major puzzles of astrophysics. To unravel the mysteries our approach is anchored to observations of our own Milky Way galaxy as it provides a link to the distant universe. Our galaxy is surrounded by a tenuous envelope of stars called the stellar halo,” wrote Kafle explaining his Thesis.  “These stars are found to have velocities that cannot be solely accounted for by the luminous component of our galaxy, indicating the presence of the mysterious `dark matter'. This dark matter dominates the evolution of structure in the Universe. So far there is no direct detection of dark matter, however, its nature such as shape and mass can be inferred from it gravitational influence on the stars motion.”

He further said a variety of methods, each with its own assumptions and inherent limitations, has been used to determine the mass.

“An accurate measurement of the mass has important repercussions in many sectors in Galactic Astrophysics. Kafle's research describes how he measured the Milky Way's total mass to be about a trillion times the mass of the Sun,” Kafle said.
Kafle had earlier led A team of University of Sydney astronomers to show that the Milky Way is a lot slimmer than we previously thought and that like all galaxies, the mass of The Milky Way Galaxy dominated by an immense "dark halo" that can only be studied through detecting its huge gravitational pull, and our location, deep in the disk of the Milky Way. Nepalnews.com



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