$1 billion dream project of India to detect black holes in universe?

US has spent $1.1 billion on LIGO project, India gears up with Rs.1200 Crore budget


As we know the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory or LIGO already has two operational gravitational wave detectors in the United States and they have achieved tremendous feats lately. Now, a third one is going to join these two detectors and it will be built in India.

According to a PTI report, India is going to accommodate a LIGO detector, which would perceive cosmic gravitational waves, by the year 2025 and several universities from across the world will be working together to achieve it.

The LIGO Lab in India is likely to come up in the Hingoli district of Maharashtra, in collaboration with the US National Science Foundation and Advanced LIGO partners from the U.K., Germany and Australia.

All costs required to build the lab will have to be borne by India. Initially, it was planned to be built in Australia but the huge budget constraint deterred it and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered to host the facility, though budget details have not been revealed to the public so far.

LIGO has cost the US government about $1.1 billion over the past 40 years. The third one in India is estimated to be built at Rs. 1,200 crore, six times the amount spent on Mangalyaan (MoM) probe. "LIGO-India will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting edge technology for the Indian industry which will be engaged in the construction of an eight-kilometre-long beam-tube at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain," defended the LIGO-India Consortium in a statement earlier, amid objections on its prohibitive cost.

Last year, the first two LIGO detectors, which are located at Washington and Louisiana, had spotted gravitational waves for the first time and it brought Nobel Prize in Physics to the researchers this year. Hundred years ago, in 1916, legendary German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein had first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in his general theory of relativity.

According to the Director of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune, Somak Raychaudhury, the experts have already finalized the location for the LIGO detector in India, however, the spot has not been revealed as of yet. "When the detector building is completed in 2025, IUCAA will run it," said the IUCAA Director, reports PTI.

It requires hundreds of young people who will not only be involved in building the detector but also running it after 2025, he noted. LIGO in Livingston is the sixth-longest building in the world with each arm measuring 4,000 meters.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is sponsoring the LIGO-India partnership under its Newton-Bhabha project on LIGO. A group of Indian Universities led by IUCAA and a University of Glasgow-led group of UK universities have signed an official contract in New Delhi.

While the detectors and the mirrors needed for the new facility will be supplied by the collaborators in the United States, Institute for Plasma Research in Ahmedabad and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology in Indore will be responsible for creating several parts of the new LIGO detector, informed Raychaudhury.

Also Read:10 years from now, we may witness gravitational waves generated from merger of supermassive black holes: Scientists

"The LIGO India project will help the Indian scientific community to be a major player in the emerging research frontier of gravitational wave astronomy," said Raychaudhury.

This article was first published on December 22, 2017