The Environment Ministry has allowed scientists to test the suitability of land in Maharashtra’s Hingoli district to host the India wing of the ambitious Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) project. This is a key step to establishing the one-of-its-kind astronomical observatory.
The LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) is a massive observatory for detecting cosmic gravitational waves and for carrying out experiments. The objective is to use gravitational-wave observations in astronomical studies.
The project operates three gravitational-wave (GW) detectors. Two are at Hanford in the state of Washington, north-western US, and one is at Livingston in Louisiana, south-eastern US. The proposed LIGO India project aims to move one advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India.
About LIGO- India project:
Known as the LIGO-India project, it is piloted by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST).
The LIGO-India project will be jointly coordinated and executed by three Indian research institutions: the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune and Department of Atomic Energy organizations: Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar and the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore.
The project will bring unprecedented opportunities for scientists and engineers to dig deeper into the realm of gravitational wave and take global leadership in this new astronomical frontier.
The LIGO-India project will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting-edge technology for the Indian industry which will be engaged in the construction of the eight-km long beam tube at an ultra-high vacuum on a leveled terrain.
With its establishment, India will join the global network of gravitational wave detectors.
Establishing an observatory in India also assumes importance because the further the distance between the observatories, the greater will be the accuracy in locating gravity waves.
Gravitational waves are the ripples in the pond of spacetime. The gravity of large objects warps space and time, or “spacetime” as physicists call it, the way a bowling ball changes the shape of a trampoline as it rolls around on it. Smaller objects will move differently as a result – like marbles spiraling toward a bowling-ball-sized dent in a trampoline instead of sitting on a flat surface.
Dubbed as the breakthrough of the century, the international team of scientists believes that the detection of gravitational waves will open an unprecedented new window to the cosmos.