Asteroid named after Indian astrophysicist Prof Jayant Murthy


BENGALURU: The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, Friday said that the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named an asteroid after renowned Indian astrophysicist Prof Jayant Murthy in recognition of his pioneering work in ultraviolet astronomy and space missions.
The asteroid, previously known as “2005 EX296”, has now been designated as “(215884) Jayantmurthy” by the IAU’s Working Group on Small Bodies Nomenclature.It orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, completing one revolution every 3.3 years.
Prof Murthy, who retired from IIA in 2021 and continues as an Honorary Professor, expressed his delight at the rare honor bestowed upon him. “I am thrilled to have an asteroid named after me, in connection with my work on the NASA New Horizons Science Team to observe the ultraviolet background radiation in the Universe,” he said.
The asteroid naming recognises Prof Murthy’s contributions to the New Horizons mission, which studied Pluto in unprecedented detail during its flyby in 2015 and has since ventured deeper into the Kuiper Belt, IIA said.
His research focuses on measuring the cosmic ultraviolet background, a task best accomplished from the outer Solar System where interference from the Sun and interplanetary medium is minimized.
Prof. Annapurni Subramaniam, director, IIA, termed the asteroid naming “a very rare honour.” He joins the ranks of previous IIA directors, Prof MK Vainu Bappu and Prof JC Bhattacharyya, who also have asteroids named after them.
Joice Mathew, a former student of Prof Murthy’s and currently at Mt Stromlo Observatory in Australia, said: “This recognition is undoubtedly well-deserved,” adding that everyone who knows Prof. Murthy must be “thrilled to know that there’s now a ‘Jayantmurthy’ up in the sky.”


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