India to play important role in LIGO project

An agreement signed between India's department of atomic energy and the US' National Science Foundation on Thursday will see India gain prime position in the LIGO project which would allow India to play an important role in gravitational wave astronomy (See: India, US sign MoU for setting up LIGO observatory).

Under the agreement, signed during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington for the Nuclear Safety Summit, India will have a new Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

LIGO was in the news earlier this year after scientists provided proof of Einstein's gravitational waves theory (See: Gravitational waves detected 100 years after Einstein's prediction).

''Historic detection of gravitational waves opens up new frontier for understanding of universe,'' Modi stated on 11 February following the announcement.

''Hope to move forward to make even bigger contribution with an advanced gravitational wave detector in the country,'' he added.

The US, which confirmed the existence of gravitational waves now wants to set up a third detector in India to get a deeper understanding of the waves' propagation.

''India is extremely important for the future of the LIGO project,'' LIGO director Dr France A Cordov said after the meeting with Modi. ''This is a great example of India-US scientific collaboration,'' Modi said.

With the new project, India would join an elite league of countries that support research on gravitational waves. In addition to the US, UK, Italy, Germany and Japan had ongoing research in the area.

The two current LIGO Observatories located at Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana are operated by Caltech and MIT respectively.

According to experts, the LIGO Observatory in India is expected to the most advanced of all observatories technologically.