The United States government has approved the relocation of one of its most-expensive science facility that monitors elusive gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916, to a new location in India.
The Indian facility will be part of a global network connected to detectors in the US and Italy. It will find out a feeble cosmic wave whose existence can settle many unanswered questions in cosmology besides opening up a new window to astronomy. The National Science Board on August 23 gave the nod for shifting the US gravitational wave detectors at Hanford to an Indian site.
The green signal from NSB came after the National Science Foundation, which funds the US detectors, asked the board to look at the proposal to shift one detector to India.
With the NSB approval in pocket, the department of atomic energy is now pushing with the government and Planning Commission to get an approval for the Rs 1,260 crore LIGO-India project which will be finished in three phases. The proposal for the 12th plan is only Rs 650 crore.
The L-shaped US observatory is known as LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory) comprising two detectors at Hanford and one at Livingstone in Louisiana. Both arms of the L-shaped detector are 4 km long and 50 mt thick. The Indian facility will be managed by three centres – Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune; Institute for Plasma Research in Gandhinagar and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore.
“We are looking at flat land sites in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattishgarh that will be free from human disturbances on the earth’s surface. There should not be any railway line, airport, mining activity of heavy industry nearby but also its should not so far off to make it inaccessible for researchers,” said Tarun Sourdeep, one of the lead LIGO-India scientists at IUCAA.