LIGO-India advanced gravitational-wave observatory frontier ias
Baljit Dhaka
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LIGO-India advanced gravitational-wave observatory frontier ias

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  • What is LIGO-India?

It is a multi-institutional mega-science project under which an advanced gravitational-wave observatory which will be a part of the international network of Gravitational Wave observatories will be set up in India.

  • It is a collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory and the three Indian institutions.

  • Which institutions are part of this project?

Institutions part of this project are:

  1. LIGO Laboratory, which is jointly operated by Caltech and MIT and is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation.
  2. Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune.
  3. Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Ahmedabad.
  4. Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore.
  • Where will this observatory be set up and who will fund it?

The observatory is being set up at Hingoli district, near Aundh in Maharashtra, and is expected to be operational by 2025.

  • Funding for the LIGO-India facilities will come from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • The LIGO Laboratory will provide the hardware for a complete LIGO interferometer, which will arrive in India sometime in 2020.
  • How many more such observatories are there worldwide?
  • LIGO has two widely separated identical detector sites working in unison as a single observatory: one at Hanford, Washington State and the other at Livingston, Louisiana.
  • It also has three sister facilities: the first one is Virgo at Pisa, Italy, the second one is GEO600 near Hannover, Germany, and the third one KAGRA (which is expected to become fully operational in 2020) in Kamioka mine in Hida, Japan.
  • What is LIGO and what is its mission?

LIGO or Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory is the world’s largest gravitational wave observatory. Its mission is to open the field of gravitational-wave astrophysics through the direct detection of gravitational waves.

  • On September 14, 2015, the twin detectors at Hanford and Livingston detected gravitational waves, the first such detection for which Barry Barish, Kip Thorne, and Rainer Weiss won Physics Nobel (2017).
  • What are gravitational waves?

Gravitational waves are ripples or distortions in space-time that propagate with the speed of light.

  • Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity.
  • They are caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe such as colliding black holes, supernovae, and colliding neutron stars, etc. They can be seen analogous to ripples on the surface of a pond.
  • What will be the scientific benefits of LIGO-India?

Adding a new detector to the existing network will increase its sensitivity, sky coverage, and duty cycle which will boost the expected event rates, and also the detection confidence of new sources.

  • But the dramatic improvement from LIGO-India would come in the ability to localize Gravitational-Wave sources in the sky, due to its geographic advantage (as this detector will be far from the countries with existing detectors).
  • How will Indian science benefit from it?

This project will help the Indian scientific community become a major player in the emerging research frontier of gravitational wave astronomy.

  • It will further inspire frontier research and development projects in India. Being intrinsically multidisciplinary, it will also bring together scientists and engineers from different fields.
  • What impact will it have on Indian education and industry?

A cutting-edge project like this will spur interest and motivate young students for choosing experimental physics and engineering physics as career options.

  • The high-end engineering requirements of the project will facilitate major industry-academic research partnerships that can produce several important technological spin-offs.