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LIGO-India Project


Recently, the government approved the construction of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project after seven years of in-principle approval. It will be built by the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology with the U.S. National Science Foundation and several national and international research institutions.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)
  2. What is LIGO-India Project?
  3. Benefits for India

Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)

LIGO is a network of international laboratories designed to detect gravitational waves. Here are some key points about LIGO:

  • LIGO is designed to measure changes in distance that are several orders of magnitude smaller than the length of a proton, due to the extremely low strength of gravitational waves.
  • The first detection of gravitational waves was made by LIGO in the US in 2015, which led to a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017. These waves were produced by the merger of two black holes, 1.3 billion years ago.
  • Black hole mergers are one of the strongest sources of gravitational waves.
  • Operational LIGO observatories exist in the United States (Hanford and Livingston), Italy (Virgo), and Japan (Kagra). Four comparable detectors are needed to detect gravitational waves globally.
  • LIGO consists of two vacuum chambers, each 4 kilometers long and set up at right angles to each other, with mirrors at the end. The presence of a gravitational wave is confirmed by detecting a phase difference in the returning light rays caused by one chamber getting elongated while the other gets squished.
  • LIGO is a groundbreaking international scientific experiment that has enabled us to observe and study the universe in new ways.

What is LIGO-India Project?

The LIGO-India project is a scientific mission that aims to detect gravitational waves from the universe. Here are some key points about this revolutionary experiment:

  • The project involves two vacuum chambers, each with a length of 4 kilometers, placed perpendicularly to each other. These chambers are the most sensitive interferometers in the world.
  • The scientific runs for the project are expected to begin in 2030.
  • The observatory will be located in the Hingoli district of Maharashtra, about 450 km east of Mumbai.
  • LIGO-India will be the fifth node of the planned network and will make India an integral part of one of the most prestigious international scientific experiments.
  • The project will position India as a unique platform that brings together the frontiers of science and technology of the quantum and the cosmos.
  • Apart from enabling dramatic returns in astronomy and astrophysics, the LIGO-India project would have several spin-off benefits to Indian science.
  • The project is expected to leapfrog Indian science and technology in cutting-edge frontiers of great national relevance.
  • The LIGO-India project is set to revolutionize the way we understand the universe and position India as a global leader in science and technology.
What are Gravitational Waves?
  • Gravitational waves were first postulated (1916) in Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which explains how gravity works.
  • These waves are produced by the movement of massive celestial bodies, such as black holes or neutron stars, and are the ripples in spacetime that propagate outward.

Benefits for India:

  • The project will provide scientists and engineers with unprecedented opportunity to delve further into the field of gravitational waves and to lead the world in this new astronomical frontier.
  • The LIGO-India project would provide significant cutting-edge technology prospects for Indian industry, which will be involved in the construction of an eight-kilometer long beam tube at ultra-high vacuum on level ground.
  • India will join the worldwide network of gravitational wave detectors once it is established.
  • Establishing an observatory in India is particularly important since the longer the distance between observatories, the more accurate the detection of gravity waves will be.

Source: Indian Express

June 2023