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Celebrating India’s contribution to LIGO’s discovery of Gravitational Waves

By Shradha

The newest discovery of the existence of gravitational waves by the advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory or LIGO has opened up an unprecedented new window on the study of the Universe and its origin.

With the announcement on the confirmation of Albert Einstein's elusive Gravitational Waves incorporating significant contribution from Indian scientists for over 25 years, observational astronomy has entered a whole new dimension.

Press conference at ICTS

India's contribution:

Members of the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) are part of the LIGO international collaboration and have contributed significantly in this discovery.

Referring to the Black Holes as one of the most remarkable predictions of Einstein's theory, Rajesh Gopakumar, Director of ICTS said: "What amazes me about the LIGO discovery is that it has now opened a completely new window into learning how these mysterious objects behave."

"We can now test aspects of Einstein's theory in extreme regimes which were inaccessible hitherto. I am particularly elated that the ICTS-TIFR group has made brilliant contributions in this direction already."

The Indian participation in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, under the umbrella of the Indian Initiative in Gravitational-Wave Observations (IndIGO), includes scientists from CMI Chennai, ICTS-TIFR Bangalore, IISER Kolkata, IISER Trivandrum, IIT Gandhinagar, IPR Gandhinagar, IUCAA Pune, RRCAT Indore and TIFR Mumbai.

60 scientists from the above mentioned institutions have contributed in this significant discovery.

[LIGO detects whispering Gravitational Waves Einstein predicted 100 years ago]

LIGO Opens New Window on the Universe :

A major press conference combined with a science event was organised at the new campus of ICTS in Hesaraghatta, Bangalore, where the representatives of ICTS-TIFR and the IndIGO consortium held talks over their achievements and the way forward for the Indian science community.

Sandip Trivedi, Director, TIFR referred to the discovery of the Gravitational Waves as having a huge impact on our understanding of very early Universe, as the Waves comes to the earth without interacting with matter at all in an undiluted way, adding that in some scenarios where the Universe underwent rapid expansion, fundamental strings might have been produced whose decay could give rise to Gravitational waves.

Explaining the fact that the signals of the electromagnetic universe which are detected by the cosmic microwave background cannot really go near the very origin of the Universe, Prof Bala Iyer said that approximately three hundred thousand years after the Big Bang that we have the Electromagnetic signals telling us about the origin of the Universe.

"But before that the only way actually, precisely because gravity is un-attenuated, is by Gravitational Waves and I think this one of the great things that science looks forward to in the future, that we would be able to witness the birth of the Universe" said Prof Bala Iyer.

Pointing out the fact that so far scientists have been observing the Universe from the different parts of the Electromagnetic spectrum, Parameswaran Ajith, Group leader in Astrophysical Relativity said that only very recently astronomical observations using anything other than light have become possible using cosmic rays , neutrinos etc.

"This is a completely new branch of observational astronomy, which will open up questions and try to answer a large number of questions as well," Ajith said on LIGO's detection of Gravitational Waves that Einstein predicted 100 years ago.

['We can now listen to the stars', claim scientists]

Addressing challenges:

When questioned about the fact that major science projects in India have not received the desired reception, Tarun Souradeep from the IndIGO consortium said India is still not into routine mega science projects, as right from the funding agencies to the agencies of government, there appears no clear cut idea of how to deal with mega sized projects.

However, he mentioned that with a few of them taking off, there will come a solution to the issues surrounding mega projects.

Referring to the LIGO project as a "pretty clean project", Souradeep pointed out that the only concerns associated with it is more sociological, involving rehabilitation as it may disrupt the road network. Hence the site selection is done keeping in mind a place where no none wants to go.

Addressing the gathering, Prof. Bala Iyer called for the need of challenges on Indian soil so that the brilliant minds remain in the country adding that the project of this magnitude has the potential to prevent the brain drain.

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