India is shining all over the globe right now. With the bandwagon of Indian science being acknowledged by the world post Mars orbital mission, here adds another feather to the proud cap of advancement of technology in the country. Of recent, scientist have made a path breaking discovery proving Einstein’s 100 year old predictions. what swells every Indian’s chest is that some of the scientist in the team were Indian. Gravitational waves have finally been discovered proving the theory of relativity. Though, Radio waves observations have already appraised us more than expected about the structure of the universe; gravitational waves shall present a whole new picture of the universe, of the stuff that doesn’t emit light – dark matter, black holes.
The history of space programs of the progressive countries has been a varied one. Besides many countries trying to establish their superiority in space, India has proved to be one of the best in the field of space technology. Indian scientists group led by Bala Iyer at the Raman Research Institute in collaboration with scientists in France discovered the gravitational wave at LIGO. Scientific research done by our very own citizens have suggested a change in the way the world works, from healing and eradicating deadly diseases to understanding the world and the universe around us.
Talking about this discovery it took so long because gravity is the weakest among the four fundamental forces. The only gravitational waves that could be detected on Earth are those that involve the collision of two massive black holes, which is exactly what the team of scientists have uncovered. The experimental setup that allowed scientists to validate it consists of a collection of old and new tools. A gravitational wave from a source, four light years away will cause a deviation of not more than a thousandth of the width of an atomic nucleus. Recognizing this is trying to drill down to the very limits of what human beings can achieve with their inventions, and it’s a truly noteworthy achievement.
The LIGO observatory has two arms, each 4 km long, and the entire setup is used as an interferometer. The setup has multiple mirrors which form two distinct paths for the same laser light, each along one arm. Whenever a gravitational wave passes through earth, it compresses one arm and expands the other. This change results in an additional phase difference in the two laser paths, and hence the laser lights interfere differently in the end, causing a detectable change in the interference pattern. In short, the change in length of paths of lasers due to gravitational waves is exploited to detect the waves.
Despite not having access to high level equipment and wealth, India has consistently committed in the fields of physics, maths, medicine, chemistry and space studies. In the field of astronomy too, we have been progressing at a tremendous space. New advances in technology have allowed for exploration of new spectral regimes, new methods of image acquisition, new methods of simulation, and more.
LIGO and the Indian Initiative in Gravitational Observations (IndIGO) have proposed a collaborative project to create a world-class gravitational-wave detector in India. The project, titled LIGO-India, has been presented to the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology for approval and funding, but final approval has not been granted yet. If approved, this project would mark a giant leap in India’s research in Observational Astronomy. Way to go, India!