India Approves $318 Million Project for LIGO Gravitational Field Observatory
The Union Cabinet has approved a gravitational-wave detector project in Maharashtra costing Rs 2,600 crore, estimated to be built by 2030. Union minister Jitendra Singh stated that a 174-acre land has been acquired in Hingoli district for its development.
LIGO-India, the third observatory of its kind, will be built to match the specifications of the LIGO observatories in the US, and will work alongside them.
Currently, the project is being collaboratively worked upon by a consortium of Indian research institutions and U.S. observatories along with various international partners.
The first two LIGO observatories are located in Louisiana & Washington state, US
The Indian government granted provisional approval for the project in February 2016. The proponents have now identified and assessed a suitable, stable site for the detector, and are now in the planning phase for the observatory.
The L-shaped LIGO instrument boasts two arms, each measuring 4 km long. Laser pulses are fired simultaneously through both arms, bouncing off the mirrors at the ends to return to the vertex. A detector analyzes whether the pulses coincide upon return. Detecting gravitational waves involves recording and analyzing the slightly out of time pulses in the detector produced by their passage.
In extreme environments, like when black holes collide, very massive objects emit gravitational waves. They provide a way to examine the gravitational characteristics of the source, similar to how light can be used to examine its electromagnetic features.
Concept of Operation of the interferometric gravitational wave observations
Two LIGOs can detect gravitational waves, but a third observatory is needed for better 'triangulation'. Four observatories are even better. Italy and Japan are upgrading detectors with this setup in mind to enhance gravitational wave detection.
The Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology are building LIGO-India in partnership with the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and various national and international research institutions. The United States will supply critical lab components valued at approximately Rs 560 crore ($80 million).
Dr. Souradeep announced that the LIGO-India Observatory will contribute to anticipated astronomical and astrophysical gains from the global LIGO network.