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LIGO-India Project

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    12th May, 2023


Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory – India (LIGO-India), on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Pokhran-II nuclear tests.

What is LIGO-India?

  • LIGO-India will be an advanced gravitational-wave observatory to be located in India as part of a worldwide network.

Brief about LIGO

  • LIGO is a network of laboratories, spread around the world, designed to detect gravitational waves produced by the movement of large celestial objects like stars and planets.
  • These ripples were first postulated in Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity that encapsulates our current understanding of how gravitation works.
  • In 2015, LIGO made history by detecting gravitational waves for the first time. 
  • Background: LIGO-India had received the government’s in-principle approval in February 2016. Since then, the project reached several milestones towards selecting and acquiring a site and building the observatory.
  • Collaboration: It is envisaged as a collaborative project between a consortium of Indian research institutions and the LIGO Laboratory in the USA, along with its international partners.
    • The United States will provide key components for the lab worth USD 80 million, which amounts to Rs 560 crore.
  • Built by: The LIGO-India project will be built by the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology, with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Science Foundation, the US, along with several national and international research and academic institutions.
  • Location: Hingoli district of Maharashtra, about 450 km east of Mumbai

Gravitational waves are 'ripples' in space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe.

  • LIGO-India will be an extremely sensitive interferometer capable of sensing gravitational waves generated during the merger of massive astrophysical objects such as black holes, and neutron stars.
  • The observatory comprises two 4-km-long vacuum chambers, built perpendicular to each other. Highly reflective mirrors are placed at the end of the vacuum chambers.
  • Fifth node: LIGO India would be the fifth node of this international network of gravitational wave observatories. Currently, there are following operational gravitational wave observatories around the world–
    • two in the United States (Hanford and Livingston)
    • one in Italy (Virgo)
    • one in Japan (Kagra)

National Technology Day

May 11 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1998 nuclear tests carried out at Pokhran test range, including its first test of a thermonuclear device, which has since been celebrated as the National Technology Day to honour scientists, engineers and technologists who made the tests possible.

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