- The United States National Science Foundation is partnering with top U.S. universities and India’s Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, or RRCAT (a unit of Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India) to launch LIGO-India, a ground-breaking collaboration, fuelled by a $320 million investment from India, that will accelerate discovery and innovation in India and around the world.
- LIGO stands for “Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory“, the world’s largest gravitational wave observatory.
- LIGO is a scientific collaboration of two widely-separated interferometers within the United States—one in Hanford, Washington and the other in Livingston, Louisiana—operated in unison to detect gravitational waves.
- LIGO exploits the physical properties of light and of space itself to detect and understand the origins of gravitational waves (GW) predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
- LIGO uses lasers to detect ripples in space-time through a method called interferometry: as gravitational waves pass by, they cause space itself to stretch and squeeze, which scientists can measure through changes in the beams of the LIGO lasers.
- LIGO’s interferometers can amplify the smallest conceivable vibrations enough that they are detectable and measurable.
Significance of LIGO
- The data LIGO collects have far-reaching implications in many areas of physics.
- LIGO has provided new clues about merging black holes, the existence of neutron stars and the origin of the universe.
- It has opened an entirely new way of observing the universe.
Detection of gravitational waves
- Colossal events in the distant universe such as merging of black holes, explosion of supernovae and collision of neutron stars create cosmic ripples in space-time called gravitational waves.
- LIGO made its first detection of gravitational waves (in 2015), generated by a pair of colliding black holes some 1.3 billion light years away.
- Following the 2015 detection, which later won the Physics Nobel (2017), the two LIGO detectors detected seven such binary black hole merger events before they were joined by the European Virgo detector in 2017. The two facilities have now detected 10 events.
- The Japanese detector, KAGRA, or Kamioka Gravitational-wave Detector, is expected to join the international network soon.
About LIGO-India Project
- LIGO-India is a scientific collaboration with LIGO and lead institutes to set up a gravitational wave detector in Maharashtra’s Hingoli district in India.
- LIGO-India is a collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory — operated by Caltech and MIT and funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) — and India’s RRCAT, the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), and the Department of Atomic Energy Directorate of Construction, Services and Estate Management (DCSEM).
Significance of LIGO-India Project
- LIGO-India will create new opportunities by being a resource for students, researchers, and educators throughout local communities
- It can create jobs across the technical workforce, unleash new avenues for scientific talent and inspire the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) leaders.
- By joining the global network, i.e., the two LIGO detectors in the U.S., Virgo in Italy, and the Kamioka Gravitational-wave Detector (KAGRA) in Japan, LIGO-India will push forward the boundaries of what science and technology can achieve and help unlock some of the universe’s greatest mysteries.
- The construction of LIGO-India is a major milestone for gravitational wave science.
- The observatory will help to answer some of the most fundamental questions about the cosmos.