LIGO India Project
- September 2, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
LIGO India Project
Subject: Science and technology
Section: Space Technology
- LIGO is an international network of laboratories that detect the ripples in spacetime produced by the movement of large celestial objects like stars and planets.
- LIGO-India will be located in Hingoli district of Maharashtra, about 450 km east of Mumbai, and is scheduled to begin scientific runs from 2030.
LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory)
- It is an international network of laboratories meant to detect gravitational waves.
- Under this, two large observatories (~ 3000 Km apart) were built in the US (Hanford Site, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana) with the aim of detecting gravitational waves by laser interferometry.
- Interferometry is a technique which uses the interference of superimposed waves to extract information.
- Besides the US, such gravitational wave observatories are currently operational in Virgo in Italy and KAGRA in Japan
- LIGO-India will be the fifth, and possibly the final node of the planned network.
Why is a Fifth LIGO Observatory Needed?
- Extremely low strength of gravitational waves make their detection very difficult.
- Therefore, LIGO-India is part of the plan to expand the network of gravitational wave observatories in order to increase the chances of detecting these waves from anywhere in the observable universe.
- This will improve the accuracy and quality of information taken from them.
- These are the ripples in space-time produced by the movement of large celestial bodies like stars and planets.
- Gravitational waves provide a new way to explore the universe, especially in ‘dark’ areas where electromagnetic radiation is absent.
- These were postulated over 100 years ago in Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity that encapsulates the current understanding of how gravitation works.
- The celestial bodies’ movements could disturb space-time, creating gravitational waves—ripples in space-time.
- They were first discovered in 2015 by two LIGOs based in the United States.
- In 2017, this experimental verification of the century-old theory received the Nobel Prize in Physics (to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne).
- Until now, at least 10 events producing gravitational waves have been detected.
LIGO-India’s Site and Equipment
- Site Selection: Hingoli was chosen due to low seismic activity, vital for precise measurements.
- Geographical Impact: Spans 430 acres, affecting six villages, boosting the local economy and infrastructure.
- Equipment: Features 4-km arms with 1.2m diameters vacuum chambers and highly-reflective mirrors for accurate gravitational wave detection.
- Precision Engineering: Mirrors polished to nanometer scales, vacuum chambers maintained at near-absolute vacuum for precise measurements.
- Security: Strict access control maintains a controlled environment to protect sensitive experiments.
Future Prospects and Benefits
- LIGO-India is poised to become a hub for international collaboration, attracting researchers from around the world to work on groundbreaking experiments.
- The project’s extended operational life of 30 years ensures its enduring contribution to the scientific community.
- LIGO-India is expected to generate vast amounts of data, providing valuable information for astronomy and astrophysics research.
- The development of technology and infrastructure for LIGO-India, including the fabrication of key components and the establishment of a data center, can stimulate India’s technological capabilities.
Local Impact and Scientific Outreach
- The project has created employment opportunities for locals, ranging from security personnel to administrative and support staff, providing a boost to the regional economy.
- Teachers in the Marathwada region have witnessed a surge of interest in astronomy among students, highlighting the project’s educational impact.
- The proposed science outreach center, ‘Light & Gravity’, represents a commitment to fostering scientific curiosity and knowledge in the local community.