Somak Raychaudhury

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Somak Raychaudhury
Somak raychaudhury iucaa1.jpg
Somak Raychaudhury at IUCAA September 2015
Born Calcutta (now Kolkata), India
Nationality Indian
Fields Astrophysics, Cosmology
Institutions Presidency University, Kolkata, University of Birmingham
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Churchill College, Cambridge
University of Oxford
Trinity College, Oxford
Presidency College, Calcutta
University of Calcutta
Doctoral advisor Donald Lynden-Bell

Somak Raychaudhury (Bengali: সোমক রায়চৌধুরী) is an Indian astrophysicist. He is the Director of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune.[1] He is on leave from Presidency University, Kolkata, India,[2] where he is a Professor of Physics, and is also affiliated to the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.[3] He is known for his work on stellar mass black holes[4][5][6] and supermassive black holes.[7] His significant contributions include those in the fields of gravitational lensing,[8] galaxy dynamics[9] and large-scale motions in the Universe, including the Great Attractor.[10]


Somak Raychaudhury was born in Kolkata (then Calcutta), India. He attended St Xavier's Collegiate School, Kolkata, from which he ranked second in the Madhyamik examination of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, 1978. He then studied at St Xavier's College, Kolkata, from which he placed second in the state in the Higher Secondary Examination of the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education. He attended Presidency College, Calcutta, where he completed his BSc degree in Physics in 1983. He then went to complete a BA degree in Physics at Trinity College, Oxford, University of Oxford, supported by an Inlaks Scholarship from the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation,[11] where he won a Douglas Sladen Essay prize. He then proceeded to obtain a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, as a member of Churchill College, Cambridge, in 1990, supported by an Isaac Newton Studentship. Here, he was a recipient of a Smith's Prize (J.T. Knight Prize) in 1988. The subject of his doctoral thesis, supervised by Donald Lynden-Bell, FRS, was "Gravity, Galaxies and the 'Great Attractor' Survey".[12]


Somak Raychaudhury became the fourth Director of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune India, in September 2015. He was Professor and Head of Physics at Presidency University, Kolkata,[13] where he was also the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Mathematical Sciences till August 2015.[14] He remains affiliated to the Astrophysics and Space Research group, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, where he used to be the director of the Wast Hills Observatory[15] for the period 2003–2012. Prior to this, he was a member of the faculty at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, India. He was a staff member at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, working for the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Before this, He was a Smithsonian postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and a tutor at Lowell House, Harvard University. Following his PhD, he was a SERC Research Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy, at the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, and a resident Junior Research fellow at St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge.

Raychaudhury's research interests lie in the study of the evolution of galaxies in groups and clusters, and on the supercluster filaments of the cosmic web. He has used optical, X-ray, radio, infrared and ultraviolet observations to understand how the transformations of galaxies are related to their local and global environment. He is involved in developing machine learning algorithms for Astronomical data mining. He has published over 80 research papers[16] in peer-reviewed scientific journals on these themes. In addition, he leads a substantial outreach programme involving school students, teachers[17] and the general public.[18] He was one of the key people to start the Indian Astronomy Olympiad, and selected and coached the Indian Olympiad team to top results at the International Astronomy Olympiad in 1999[19] and 2000 .[20] His outreach activities include numerous programmes on radio,[21] television and collaboration with performing artists.[22]

He is a member of the International Astronomical Union,[23] a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a Fellow of the European Astronomical Society. He is a Life Member of the Astronomical Society of India,[24] and was an elected member of its Executive Council during 1998–2000.

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ "Raychaudhury is IUCAA's new director". Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  2. ^ "Presidency University Department of Physics". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Academic staff in the School of Physics and Astronomy". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Birmingham scientists in black hole discovery, news item on Somak Raychaudhury's research on black holes, Birmingham Mail, 9 April 2012". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "'Ordinary' Black Hole Discovered 12 Million Light Years Away,". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Royal Astronomical Society Press release on Somak Raychaudhury's research". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "A Quest for Cosmic Karma, Science, 31 July 2009: 532–533; an interview with Somak Raychaudhury and others on the effect of supermassive black holes in galaxy groups and clusters". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "The quest for the golden lens: a perfect alignment of massive objects would offer clues to the rate of cosmic expansion, article by Charles Liu in Natural History Magazine on Somak Raychaudhury's work on gravitational lensing, September 2003". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Spiral metamorphosis, animation inspired by the work of Somak Raychaudhury and Donald Lynden-Bell". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Astronomers home in on the Great Attractor, article in New Scientist, on Somak Raychaudhury's work on looking for the Great Attractor, 9 December 1989". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Inlaks foundation Alumni". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Raychaudhury, S. (1989). "Gravity, Galaxies and the "Great Attractor" Survey". Cambridge University. Bibcode:1989PhDT.......122R. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  13. ^ "A Call from Home, an article by Kaustuv Basu in "Inside Higher Ed", October 5, 2012". Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "Presidency professor takes up a national role". Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  15. ^ "The University of Birmingham Observatory". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Query Results from the ADS Database". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  17. ^ "Report on Somak Raychaudhury's talk on Priorities and Problems in Science Communication: An Indian Perspective at the DFID/UNESCO International Workshop on Science Communication – 3–5 July 2000, London". Archived from the original on 18 August 2003. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  18. ^ "e.g. Can Black Holes be seen? Review of a Café Scientifique discussion led by Somak Raychaudhury, Birmingham Post, 13 December 2011". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  19. ^ "Indian students win honours at astronomy olympiad". Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  20. ^ "International Astronomy Olympiad". Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  21. ^ "e.g. BBC Radio 4 programme, Stars in their Eyes, 2003–04". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  22. ^ "e.g. Stellar Performance as Student Whips up a Musical Solar Storm, music composed by Tamasine Leighton-Crawford, inspired by Somak Raychaudhury's talk, 2008". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  23. ^ "International Astronomical Union". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  24. ^ "Directory of Members: Astronomical Society of India". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 

External links[edit]