Pioneering radio astronomer Govind Swarup passes away


He was the founding director of Pune-based National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

Eminent scientist and one of the trailblazers of radio astronomy in India, prof. Govind Swarup, passed away late on Monday at a private hospital in Pune. He was 91.

According to sources, prof. Swarup was admitted to the cityโ€™s Ruby Hall Clinic 10 days ago following health complications related to old age. Medical authorities said he passed away around 9 p.m..

Prof. Swarup, widely acknowledged as the โ€˜doyen of Indian radio astronomyโ€™ in India, was the founding director of the Pune-based National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

A much-feted scientist, he was the prime mover behind the concept, design and installation of the Ooty Radio Telescope and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope near Pune. The installation of the latter device firmly established India as one of the leading countries for radio astronomy research.

Prof. Swarup obtained his M.Sc. from Allahabad University in 1950 and his Ph.D. from Standford University in the U.S. in 1961, where his doctoral adviser was Ronald Bracewell.

He returned to India in 1963, and joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research at the invitation of prof. Homi Bhaba.

There he built a strong radio astronomy group whose legacy continues today at the NCRA.

He was honoured by the Indian government with the Padma Shri in 1973. His raft of other honours and prizes include the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize (1972) and the Grote Reber Medal (2007). He was a fellow of many distinguished academies, notably as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Astronomical Society, London, and had served as president of the Astronomical Society of India during 1975-77.

His funeral was performed at night at the Aundh crematorium. He is survived by his wife, and a son and daughter.

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