LIGO Project

NOV 20

Preliminary   > Science and Technology   >   Global research projects and India   >   Global research projects and India

Why in news?

  • The Hingoli revenue department has handed over 225 hectare of land here in Maharashtra to authorities of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project for setting up the first such facility in the country. It is expected to be operational by 2025.

More about the news:

  • There are currently a couple of such labs in the US - at Hanford in Washington and Livingston in Louisiana - which study the gravitational waves.
  • In 2016, the central government had given an 'in principle' approval to the LIGO-India mega science proposal for research on gravitational waves.

What is LIGO?

  • It is the world's largest gravitational wave observatory and a marvel of precision engineering.
  • LIGO exploits the physical properties of light and of space itself to detect and understand the origins of gravitational waves (GW).
  • It was launched as a joint project between MIT, Caltech and other universities.
  • LIGO consists of a pair of huge interferometers, each having two arms which are 4 km long.

What are Gravitational Waves?

  • Gravitational waves are 'ripples' in space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe.
  • Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity.
  • Einstein's mathematics showed that massive accelerating objects (such as neutron stars or black holes orbiting each other) would disrupt space-time in such a way that 'waves' of undulating space-time would propagate in all directions away from the source.
  • These cosmic ripples would travel at the speed of light, carrying with them information about their origins, as well as clues to the nature of gravity itself.
  • The strongest gravitational waves are produced by cataclysmic events such as colliding black holes, supernovae (massive stars exploding at the end of their lifetimes), and colliding neutron stars.
  • Other waves are predicted to be caused by the rotation of neutron stars that are not perfect spheres, and possibly even the remnants of gravitational radiation created by the Big Bang.
  • On September 14, 2015, LIGO physically sensed the undulations in spacetime caused by gravitational waves generated by two colliding black holes 1.3 billion light-years away.
  • While the processes that generate gravitational waves can be extremely violent and destructive, by the time the waves reach Earth they are thousands of billions of times smaller
  • In fact, by the time gravitational waves from LIGO's first detection reached us, the amount of space-time wobbling they generated was a 1000 times smaller than the nucleus of an atom. Such inconceivably small measurements are what LIGO was designed to make.

About LIGO-India Project

  • LIGO-India project is envisaged as an international collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory and three lead institutions in the IndIGO consortium:
    • Institute of Plasma Research (IPR) Gandhinagar
    • Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune
    • Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore.
  • LIGO-India is a planned advanced gravitational-wave observatory to be located in India as part of the worldwide network.
  • It is planned as a collaborative project between a consortium of Indian research institutions and the LIGO Laboratory in the USA, along with its international partners Australia, Germany and the UK.
  • LIGO project operates three gravitational-wave (GW) detectors. Two are at Hanford in the state of Washington, north-western USA and one is at Livingston in Louisiana, south-eastern USA.
  • Currently these observatories are being upgraded to their advanced configurations (called Advanced LIGO).
  • The proposed LIGO-India project aims to move one Advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India.
  • The LIGO-India Project will be piloted and overseen by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • LIGO lab would provide the complete design and all the key detector components. Indian scientists would provide the infrastructure to install the detector at a suitable site in India and would be responsible for commissioning it.
  • The proposed observatory would be operated jointly by IndIGO and the LIGO-Lab and would form a single network along with the LIGO detectors in USA and Virgo in Italy.


Consider the following statements regarding ‘Gravitational Waves’:

1. The strongest gravitational waves are produced by cataclysmic events such as colliding black holes

2. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2