Gravitational waves: City-based IUCAA to install 3rd LIGO detector

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Pune: The third detector which can detect gravitational waves will be installed by Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) India site. “This for the first time, India will be directly involved in the research work,” said Somak Raychaudhury, Director of IUCAA.

Pune: The third detector which can detect gravitational waves will be installed by Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) India site. “This for the first time, India will be directly involved in the research work,” said Somak Raychaudhury, Director of IUCAA.

Talking exclusively to Sakal Times, he said, “In LIGO, IUCAA’s job was to coordinate research community in the country and to run the project. Americans have built up the third detector for the project. Indian government and the American government have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and according to it, the built detector will be transferred to India.” 

“We will install this detector at LIGO India site and will also build up an observatory around it. The mirrors and detectors required to build the system will be sent from the LIGO collaborators in the US. And by 2025, it will be functioning, but to make it functional, we have to match up with the technology that Americans would be developing by then. Several researchers from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and various other research institutes will be working on this. We want to develop the technology comparable to it,” he said. 

“We have received funds of Rs 1,500 crore from Department of Science and Technology and Department of Atomic Energy for this project,” he said.  

The existence of these waves was first predicted by Albert Einstein 100 years ago in his general theory of relativity. Massive accelerating objects such as neutron stars or black holes orbiting each other would disrupt space time in such a way that ‘waves’ of distorted space comes out from the source.

These ripples travel at the speed of light through the universe, carrying with them information about their origins, as well as invaluable clues to the nature of gravity itself.

“To encourage astronomy and astrophysics among students across various universities in the country, IUCAA has been thrust with the responsibility to design a course material, audio-visual material, textbook, experiments and laboratories, a teaching and learning centre will come up at IUCAA,” he said.

“The teachers will also be trained to teach the subjects and conduct research,” he said adding that this centre is expected to begin in next three years.  “As the choice-based credit system has given an opportunity to the students to choose from the vast variety of subjects/topics, this centre will design the course material for Astronomy and Astrophysics. We have received funds from Human Resource Department for it,” he said. 

The LIGO project 
†LIGO-India is a planned advanced gravitational-wave observatory to be located in India as part of the worldwide network. It will be functional by 2025.
†Since a multi-disciplinary project, it will bring together scientists and engineers from different fields like optics, lasers, gravitational physics, astronomy and astrophysics, cosmology, computational science, mathematics and various branches of engineering.
†Once in place, a third detector would be able to ‘triangulate’ the source of gravitational waves and thus make other, more detailed observations. 

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