Kulinder Pal Singh obtained BSc Honors in Physics (1971) from Punjabi University, Patiala, and MSc Physics (1973) from Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. He was awarded PhD Physics (1981) from Bombay University for work done at TIFR, Mumbai with Profs. B.V. Sreekantan, S. Naranan and PC Agrawal. He worked at TIFR from 1973 to 2017 as: Visiting Member(1973-77), Research Associate(1977-82), Fellow(1982-1988), Reader(1988-1994), Assoc. Prof(1994-1998), Professor’G’(1998-2000), Professor’H’(2000-2008), Senior Prof(2008-2017). He worked with Professor G.P. Garmire, at the Penn State University(1994-1995), Prof.H.W. Schnopper at the Danish Space Research Institute(1985-1987), and Dr. N.E. White at the Lab for High Energy Astrophysics, Goddard Space Flight Centre, NASA, Maryland. He also spent a few months at the Centre for Astrophysics, Harvard-Smithsonian Observatory, Cambridge, USA, and Department of Physics at Nagoya University, Japan, working with Profs. J.P. Hughes, H. Kunieda, and Y. Tawara.
Academic and Research Achievements: Prof Singh’s research focused in the area of observational and experimental X-ray Astronomy. He studied the spatial distribution and spectral characteristics of the diffuse soft X-ray background using rocket-borne payloads built by him. He studied the physics of the hot interstellar medium in the Milky Way and some nearby galaxies, and made several discoveries about the extent of hot bubbles and superbubbles and their chemical composition. He discovered cooling flows of X-ray gas in clusters of galaxies, and the presence of extremely large radio sources in one of them. He provided some of the first reliable measurements of elemental abundances in the hot coronae of active stars, supernova remnants, and clusters of galaxies. He discovered and studied many Cataclysmic Variables that are binary stars in which a magnetic white dwarf accretes matter from a red M-dwarf star and produces X-rays. He discovered soft X-ray excess (a signature of the presence of accretion disk) in the active nuclei of galaxies (AGN) known as Seyfert galaxies. He continues to study the multi-wavelength emission from Seyfert galaxies and other very active AGN known as blazars to unravel the physics of accretion around supermassive black-holes. He designed, built, launched and operationalized India’s first Soft X-ray focusing telescope based on grazing incidence. The telescope, aboard India’s first multi-wavelength satellite, AstroSat, is working since its launch on September 28, 2015, and providing a wealth of data to observers from India and abroad. He continues to guide the development of a hard X-ray focusing telescope for future astronomy missions.
Other Contributions: Prof. Singh set up a facility to analyse X-ray data from various international satellites in TIFR in 1989 and followed it up with the first Image Processing Laboratory at TIFR to analyse data from Vainu Bappu Telescope (VBT) in 1990. He was part of the team that built India’s first CCD based camera for the VBT. He has served on the Time Allocation Committees (TAC) for the Giant Metre Radio Telescope and serving on the AstroSat TAC. He has served on the Editorial Board of Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy, and currently serving as a board member for the Current Science. He was member of the Board of Management of National Centre for Radio Astronomy and the National Balloon Facility, and member of the Academic Council of IUCAA. He was the founding secretary of the TIFR Alumni Association, and started its newsletter, website and designed its logo. He was an elected member of the Organizing Committee of the International Astronomical Union Division XI on Space and High Energy Astrophysics, 2006-16. He is currently teaching and guiding students at IISER, Mohali.
Awards and Honours: Prof. Singh is a recipient of The Astronautical Society of India Award for Space Sciences & Applications, 2004 for the design and fabrication of India’s first X-ray focusing telescope. He is an elected fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru and the National Academy of Sciences India, Allahabad.