K.N. Nagendra




Kanakatte Nanjundarao Nagendra 1955 – 2020

The eminent Indian theoretical astrophysicist K.N. Nagendra unexpectedly passed away on 6 March 2020 due to cardiac arrest. He was one of the main contributors to the advancement of the field of solar polarization with his many profound contributions to the theory of polarized radiative transfer. He built up a group of brilliant young students, who now have become established scientists in different parts of the world. Besides this legacy, he stood out with his unparalleled work ethics, dedication to science, and integrity.

Nagendra was born in a village named Kanakatte in the state of Karnataka, India, on 3 July 1955. He graduated from the University of Mysore and completed his PhD at the Bangalore University in 1986 with the thesis titled "Radiative Transfer With Stokes Vectors". He has been on the scientific staff of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore since 1985. During this time he also held various visiting scientist positions in the US, France, and Switzerland. After his official retirement as Senior Professor in 2015 he continued his scientific work and collaborations with undiminished intensity.

Throughout his research career Nagendra systematically developed the theory and numerical techniques to calculate the formation of polarized line profiles in magnetized astrophysical media, accounting for scattering, Hanle and Zeeman effects, Paschen-Back effect, partial frequency redistribution, quantum interferences between various kinds of atomic levels, etc. He developed collaborations with observational programs to apply his theory to realistic model atmospheres for comparison with observations, in particular of the various spectral features that are observed in the Second Solar Spectrum. Furthermore he developed super fast iterative numerical methods to address multi-D polarized transfer problems, and contributed to the development of comoving frame techniques to solve radiative transfer problems in non-planar geometry.

Besides science Nagendra pursued interests in Indian classical music and philosophy. Many of us consider him as one of the kindest, sincere, devoted, and hard-working scientists we have ever known. He is survived by his mother-in-law, wife, daughter, son, and four grandchildren. While he will be deeply missed, his kindness and uncompromising devotion to the scientific enterprise will endure as an inspiration to all who have had the privilege of having known him as a mentor, friend, or collaborator.

Jan Stenflo and M. Sampoorna

Past affiliation(s) within the IAU

  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 36 Theory of Stellar Atmospheres (2006-2009)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 36 Theory of Stellar Atmospheres (2003-2006)
  • Past Member of Division B Facilities, Technologies and Data Science (until 2020)
  • Past Member of Division D High Energy Phenomena and Fundamental Physics (until 2020)
  • Past Member of Division E Sun and Heliosphere (until 2020)
  • Past Member of Division G Stars and Stellar Physics (until 2020)
  • Past Member of Executive Committee WG Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion (2019-2020)
  • Past Member of Division IV Stars (until 2012)
  • Past Member of Commission 36 Theory of Stellar Atmospheres (2003-2009)

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