April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination




THE CONTEXT: Professor Jayant Murthy is a renowned Indian astrophysicist known for his significant contributions to space missions, ultraviolet astronomy, and the study of the interstellar medium.


  • An asteroid was named after Professor Jayant Murthy by the International Astronomical Union (IAU)’s Working Group.
  • Previously cataloged as 2005 EX296, the asteroid is now officially designated as (215884) Jayantmurthy.
  • The asteroid (215884) Jayantmurthy was discovered by MW Buie in 2005 at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, USA.
  • It orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, completing a full orbit every 3.3 years.

Contributions of Professor Murthy:

  • NASA’s New Horizons Mission:
    • Professor Murthy played a crucial role in NASA’s New Horizons Science Team.
    • The New Horizons mission, NASA’s first venture in the New Frontiers programme, was launched in 2006.
    • The mission gained global attention with its historic flyby of Pluto in 2015, providing unprecedented views and data of the dwarf planet and its moons.
    • Its objective is to conduct a detailed study of the surface features, geological structures, and morphology of Pluto and its moons. This includes mapping the surface composition of Pluto and Charon.
    • The mission reshaped our understanding of distant celestial objects by expanding the boundaries of space exploration.
  • Contributions to Understanding Cosmic Phenomena:
    • Professor Murthy’s work on studying ultraviolet background radiation far out in the Solar System has been instrumental in advancing our understanding of cosmic phenomena.
    • His observations, free from interference from the Sun and interplanetary medium, have provided valuable insights.
  • Recognition and Gratitude:
    • Expressing his gratitude for the honor of having an asteroid named after him, Professor Murthy highlighted his involvement in the New Horizons team led by Dr. Alan Stern.
    • He expressed his thrill at the recognition of his contributions to the mission.
  • Retirement and Continued Impact:
    • In 2021, Professor Murthy retired from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) but continues to serve as an Honorary Professor.
    • He previously served as the acting Director of IIA from July 2018 to October 2019.
  • Global Impact of Research:
    • The naming of the asteroid after Professor Murthy signifies the global impact of his research and contributions to the field of astrophysics.
    • His work has earned recognition not only within India but also internationally.


  • Asteroids, sometimes called minor planets, are rocky, airless remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
  • The current known asteroid count is at least 1,351,400.
  • Most of this ancient space rubble can be found orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter within the main asteroid belt.
  • Asteroids range in size from Vesta – the largest at about 329 miles (530 kilometers) in diameter – to bodies that are less than 33 feet (10 meters) across.
  • The total mass of all the asteroids combined is less than that of Earth’s Moon.

International Astronomical Union:

  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) was founded in 1919.
  • Its headquarters is in Paris, France.
  • Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation.
  • Its Individual and Junior Members — structured in Divisions, Commissions, and Working Groups — are professional astronomers from all over the world, at the Ph.D. level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy.
  • The IAU has 12753 Individual and Junior Members in 110 countries worldwide.
  • Of those countries 85 are National Members. In addition, the IAU collaborates with various scientific organizations all over the world.

SOURCE: https://www.livemint.com/science/news/indian-prof-jayant-murthy-honored-with-asteroid-name-jayantmurthy-who-is-he/amp-11711104093086.html

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