Gravitational waves are space-time distortion or ripple that are caused by some of the most violent events in the Universe such as collision of two black holes, a binary pulsar, creation of the Universe, etc. The huge acceleration of these orbiting bodies (like neutron star, pulsar, black hole) as a result of these events creates a space-time distortion which results in the generation of these waves. These waves were first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 in his famous “Theory of Relativity”. In 1972, twenty years after Einstein’s death, two scientists observed the decreasing distance between accelerating bodies in a binary pulsar. The rate of this decrease matched with that predicted by The Relativity Theory. This led to the proof of the existence of Gravitational waves.
On 11 February 2016, a breakthrough discovery took place – Gravitational waves were detected for the very first time by LIGO detectors in Washington. Unlike Electromagentic waves, Gravitational waves do not interact with matter and are transparent to it, i.e. it can pass through matter undistorted. Since these waves emanate from source events like the birth of Universe, exploding stars, collision of black holes, etc., their studies can help us discover hidden secrets about the Universe.
In India, a recent cabinet meeting headed by PM Modi approved the decision to setup a LIGO lab in India, which came to be known as LIGO-India project. The setup, to be completed in 8 years, will have the direct support of some of the Indian science bodies and the LIGO observatory in Washington. This provides an interesting opportunity for various stakeholders to be a part of this project from its initiation to the completion. A new and an energised scientific temper is set to grow in India and many opportunities awaits its young as well as experienced scientists.