Groundbreaking Space Research by Institute of Science and Technology, Pakistan


Pakistani students are making waves all over the world and rightfully so for they are just brimming with untapped potential and talent. The recent ones to do so are three students from the space science department at Institute of Space Technology (IST) in Islamabad.

These students have gone on to receive international acclaim for their research on super-massive black holes and galaxy collisions in space; with their contents of research published in a reputed scientific journal as a paper and long with it being cited in the academic communities at science departments of Harvard, Columbia and Stony Brook universities.

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The research on the topic was conducted by the students with the help of a supercomputer facility located at Vanderbilt University (VU) in the United States (US). The research focuses on the rotation of galaxies and the evolution of super-massive black holes in the universe. With the help of a computer they stimulated space environments and were able to figure out the physics behind colliding galaxies and the merger of their black holes.

Speaking to a local newspaper, the lead author for the research paper Muhammad Awais Mirza said

We have actually attempted to map the progression of a pair of super-massive black holes located at the heart of galaxies under the influence of the rotation of neighboring stars.”

Further explaining the research and outlining the experiment findings Afnan Tahir, associate of Mirza said

Our experiment points out that most super-massive black hole pairs tend to have same sense of rotation as their host galaxy, even if their initial sense of rotation is counter aligned to the host galaxy.”

Another co-author of the paper Adnan Mehmood Baig speaking about the research said

The outcome of the study tells us that, as opposed to popular opinion, super-massive black hole pairs are not present right at the galactic centre. We have proved that these exotic objects can fall well outside the centre.”

The project was supervised by Fazeel Mahmood Khan who has a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Astrophysics from Max Planck Research School in Heidelberg, Germany. The team’s external supervisor was Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, Associate Professor at VU and the chairperson of the US Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) team, and the stimulation code that was used in the study was used devised by Peter Berczik from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.