Yashwant Gupta

My research areas cover different aspects of the study of pulsars -- rapidly rotating compact neutron stars that emit intense beams of radio emission. Areas of interest range from detailed studies of their emission process, searching for and finding new pulsars, timing studies to understand their dynamics, and using them as a probe to study the interstellar medium. The other main area of interest is the development of new instrumentation and signal processing techniques for radio astronomy.


Searching for pulsars:

Though more than 2000 pulsars have been found by astronomers so far, there are much more waiting to be discovered, including some that could be much more interesting and exotic than the ones found so far. In addition to blind searches that target large areas of the sky in a uniform manner using sensitive telescopes like the GMRT, I have been involved in targeted searches in specific locations such as supernova remnants, globular clusters and compact sources of high energy emission that are likely to harbor neutron stars. Some very unique and interesting pulsars have been discovered in these searches and I continue to be involved in further explorations of this kind.


Timing studies of pulsars:

Once a new pulsar is discovered, a host of interesting new things can be learned about it (and its environment) by a careful study of the time of arrival of the pulses, over long durations of time, spanning weeks to months to years. I continue to be involved in several such studies that have (a) revealed irregularities in rotation (called glitches) in young neutron stars, and (b) been used to infer the nature of the orbit for neutron stars in binary systems, in addition to determining basic parameters like accurate values for the period and its derivative with time. Another interesting area of my research is the study of timing noise -- the residual random behavior seen in timing data when all known effects have been modeled.


Understanding radio emission properties:

Working out exactly how and why radio pulsars shine remains one of the biggest unsolved problems in the field. Some of my research work revolves around efforts to try and understand better the location and distribution of emission regions in the magnetosphere of a neutron star, aided and abetted by high-quality single frequency and simultaneous multi-frequency observations of phenomena such as drifting subpulses, using the GMRT. Even as we improve our understanding of such issues, there is much to learn and look forward to in this exciting area of work.


Probing the interstellar medium using pulsars:

Due to the fact that pulsars are extremely compact objects and emit narrow duty pulses, they form excellent probes of several properties of the interstellar medium (ISM). My interest here ranges from a more detailed understanding of the distribution of the ionized plasma of the ISM to using interstellar scintillations as a probe to resolve the very compact emission regions of pulsars. Instrumentation for radio astronomy:


Instrumentation for radio astronomy:

The development of next generation instrumentation for radio telescopes is an area of keen interest for me. In particular, my emphasis is on digital back-end systems which can play an important role in expanding the capabilities and versatility of a radio telescope, enabling new science to be carried out. I have been actively involved in 3 generations of back-ends for the GMRT, starting with a completely hardware-based implementation to a software-based approach using general purpose CPUs, and now to using accelerated computing with GPUs for the back-end for the upgraded GMRT.


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