Seismically quiet city of Pune LIGO-India Frontrunner
Chennai: With the Central government’s nod for LIGO-India an advanced gravitational wave observatory, Pune is the frontrunner among the sites shortlisted for the observatory as the Deccan Plateau is seismically quiet and the preferred destination according to scientists.
We have waited many years for the government’s approval of LIGO-India project.
The site of the observatory plays a major role and so more attention is being paid to that. The observatory should be away from railway lines and roads and seashores as it could affect the observation, scientists said.
“We expect LIGO-India to do the scientific observations eight years from now. We are already talking to the industry regarding requirements,” says Tarun Sauradeep from IndIGO, a consortium of Indian scientists working in the field of gravitational-wave astronomy.
The proposed observatory got the central government’s nod on February 17. It will come up at a cost of Rs 1,260 crores, spread over ten years.
“There should not be any tremors at the site and so northern India and the Himalayas are ruled out. It also needs to be away from the sea as the impact of the waves can distract the signals. So down south was also ruled out. The observatory may come in the seismically quite Deccan Plateau,” he said.
Right now, some sites from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have been shortlisted for the observatory. The observatory consists of the vacuum tubes in ‘L’ shape, each side 4 kms long. This will require 350 acres of land.
Three Indian institutes will play the key role in setting up the observatory — Institute for Plasma Research (IPR) in Gandhi Nagar will serve the vacuum tube and the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT) in Indore will provide the latest laser technology and Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics will handle the computers. LIGO in the US will provide the technological help.
After Albert Einstein published the theory of relativity in 1916 where he predicted the presence of gravitational waves in the universe, scientists, after exactly 100 years, announced the discovery of gravitational waves.
“It opens a new window of the universe as we can see the universe in the absence of light. This is the first confirmation of the existence of binary black holes in space,” says K.G. Arun from Chennai Mathematical Institute, who is also an IndIGO council member.
“The LIGO-India detector can help to the localisation of space. With two more detectors from Italy and Japan, we can locate the source of the gravitational wave. Whatever the information we have now about the universe came through lights (electromagnetic). Due to lack of light, black holes can’t be easily observed by light,” he added. With the merger of the technologies, light and gravity waves, our knowledge of the universe will definitely get enriched.