Dr Fred Raab from the LIGO Labs, Caltech presented a talk on the new frontier of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy yesterday at the Indian Institute Of Astrophysics. LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and is an observatory built at two seperate locations in the United Stats with the sole aim of detecting the presence of Gravitational waves using sophisticated laser interferometers.
Earlier this year, the Union Cabinet of India approved the setting of Ligo India observatory. The project which is estimated to cost Rs 1200 Crore and is being implemented by the DAE and Ministry Of Science and Technology. would be operating the observatory once it is operational. They would also provide the complete hardware, design and installation plans for commissioning the observatory.
India would provide the land, labor and assist in building the infrastructure for the vacuum tubes. Three Indian research institutions, IUCAA in Pune, Institute For Plasma Research, Gandhi-nagar and RRCAT Indore would play a important role in co-ordinating and executing this prestigious international project.
The talk focused on the latest developments and findings in Gravitational Wave astronomy. The detection of Gravity waves remains a challenge and the advances in technology have helped further increase our understanding of this phenomenon. Gravity waves are hard to find because space time is much stiffer than what Einstein thought it would be. Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light and are generated only in specific gravitational interactions. Einstein first predicted the existence of these waves in 1916 based on the extrapolation of his general theory of relativity.
In terms of physics, the study has thrown up challenges that keeps physicists up at night. Most physicists believe that they are pretty close to unraveling the mysteries of gravitational waves. Dr Fred Raab shared various observations recorded at their labs and how it was processed to reach and validate Einstein’s theories on gravitational waves. Gravity waves are studied to mainly understand celestial objects like neutron stars, black holes and supernovae’s.