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LIGO-India

LIGO-India is a proposed advanced gravitational-wave observatory to be located in India as part of the worldwide network, whose concept proposal is now under active consideration in India and the USA. LIGO-India is envisaged as a collaborative project between a consortium of Indian research institutions and the LIGO Laboratory in USA, along with its international partners.

What is LIGO India?



The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) project operates three gravitational-wave (GW) detectors. Two are at Hanford in the state of Washington, north-western USA, and one is at Livingston in Louisiana, south-eastern USA. Currently these observatories are being upgraded to their advanced configurations (called Advanced LIGO). The proposed LIGO-India project aims to move one Advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India. LIGO-India project is envisaged as an international collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory and three lead institutions in the IndIGO consortium: Institute of Plasma Research (IPR) Gandhinagar, Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore. LIGO lab would provide the complete design and all the key detector components. Indian scientists would provide the infrastructure to install the detector at a suitable site in India and would be responsible for commissioning it. The proposed observatory would be operated jointly by IndIGO and the LIGO-Lab and would form a single network along with the LIGO detectors in USA and Virgo in Italy.

Design: The proposed detector will be a Michelson Interferometer with Fabry-Perot enhanced arms of 4 km length and aims to detect differential changes in the arm-lengths as small as 10-23 Hz-1/2 in the frequency range between 30 to 800 Hz. The design would be identical to that of the Advanced LIGO(external link) detectors that are being commissioned in the USA.

Scientific benefits


The scientific benefits of LIGO-India are enormous. Adding a new detector to the existing network will increase the expected event rates, and will boost the detection confidence of new sources (by increasing the sensitivity, sky coverage and duty cycle of the network). But the dramatic improvement from LIGO-India would come in the ability of localizing GW sources in the sky. Sky-location of the GW sources is computed by combining data from geographically separated detectors ('aperture synthesis'). Adding a new detector in India, geographically well separated from the existing LIGO-Virgo detector array, will dramatically improve the source-localization accuracies (5 to 10 times), thus enabling us to use GW observations as an excellent astronomical tool. Read More...

Impact on Indian science, industry and education


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Impact on Indian science: The proposed LIGO-India project will help Indian scientific community to be a major player in the emerging research frontier of GW astronomy. A major initiative like LIGO-India will further inspire frontier research and development projects in India.  The nature of the experiment is intrinsically multidisciplinary. It will bring together scientists and engineers from different fields like optics, lasers, gravitational physics, astronomy and astrophysics, cosmology, computational science, mathematics and various branches of engineering. In order to fully realize the potential of multi-messenger astronomy, the LIGO-India project will join forces with several Indian astronomy projects. Potential collaborators include the Astrosat(external link) project, future upgrades of the India-based Neutrino Observatory(external link) and optical/radio telescopes.

Impact on industry: The high-end engineering requirements of the project (such as the world's largest ultra-high vacuum facility) will provide unprecedented opportunities for Indian industries in collaboration with academic research institutions. LIGO project has facilitated major industry-academic research partnerships in USA and Europe, and has produced several important technological spin offs(external link). LIGO-India will provide similar opportunities to Indian industry.

Education and public outreach: A cutting edge project in India can serve as a local focus to interest and inspire students and young scientists. The LIGO-India project involves high technology instrumentation and its dramatic scale will spur interest and provide motivation to young students for choosing experimental physics and engineering physics as career options. The ‘multi-spectral’ reach to physics will attract a large number of talented and motivated young researchers and students to the program, as it has done in other countries. Also, the observatory will be one of the very few research facilities in India of this scale, international relevance and technological innovation to which the general public and students can have access.

Proposed timeline


2012 - 2013 Site survey, measurements, validation, selection and acquisition
2014 - 2015  Site preparation, Design and Drawings for Buildings, Tendering for Civil infrastructure, construction of Central and End stations.
2012 - 2015 On site training and participation at LIGO-USA during initial phases of LIGO-USA assembly and tests.
2012- 2013 Update and finalization of drawings for UHV systems, Preparation of infrastructure for fabrication & tests, Establishing protocols and processes for fabrication.
2014 - 2017 Fabrication of spiral welded tubes and main UHV End stations.
2015 - 2016   Shipping of LIGO components from LIGO-USA.
2016   Start of LIGO-India interferometer assembly.
2016 - 2018   LIGO-India integration, tests and validation.
2018 - 2019   Locked operation of the detector and tuning to achieve design sensitivity.
2019 - 2020 Science Runs and regular Operation of LIGO-India.
2020 - Network runs and GW astronomy with LIGO-India.



Current status


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  • Aug 2012: NSB discusses LIGO-India and the required change in scope for the Advanced LIGO project, and approves the following resolution: "RESOLVED, that the National Science Board authorize the Deputy Director at her discretion to approve the proposed Advanced LIGO Project change in scope, enabling plans for the relocation of an advanced detector to India."
  • June 2012: NSF review panel convenes for a third time to review detailed plan in preparation for presentation to the National Science Board (NSB). Strong positive recommendation for the project; NSF decides to seek agreement from the NSB.
  • April, 2012: NSF panel reviews progress toward resolving practical issues concerning LIGO-India. Positive recommendation from the review panel, with a request for detailed planning documentation from LIGO Laboratory.
  • March 2012: "Unanimous and enthusiastic" endorsement of the LIGO Lab decision by the LIGO Oversight Committee.
  • March 2012: LIGO Laboratory expresses satisfaction with the progress made, and asks NSF approval to go ahead with the project.
  • August 2011-March 2012: LIGO Laboratory evaluation of LIGO-India feasibility. Several key LIGO Lab members visit India to evaluate capabilities and interest.
  • November 2011: Presentation of LIGO-India in the Astronomy Mega Projects meeting convened by DST and DAE.
  • November 2011: IndIGO submits Detailed Project Report to DAE-DST Consortium proposing the consideration of LIGO-India as a Mega-Science Project in the XIIth five-year plan.
  • October 2011: LIGO-India included in the list of Mega Projects under consideration(external link).
  • October 2011: Formal offer by LIGO-Lab to pursue the possibility of LIGO-India.
  • October 2011: The US National Science Foundation (NSF) convenes review panel to assess the science case for LIGO-India. Panel notes that the "science case for LIGO-India is compelling"; but identifies a number of outstanding issues to be addressed before making a deeper commitment.
  • September 2011: LIGO Scientific Collaboration's (LSC) unanimous endorsement for the LIGO-India concept. IndIGO accepted as a member group of LSC.
  • August 2011: LIGO-India Proposal by IndIGO presented in the Mega Projects Committee meeting.
  • July 2011: IndIGO accepted as member of Gravitational Wave International Committee (GWIC).
  • June 2011: IndIGO and the LIGO Lab begin discussions about relocating an Advanced LIGO interferometer to India.

LIGO-India: Proposal



Download the LIGO-India proposal(external link).
Note: The LIGO-India proposal is under consideration of the science funding agencies in India and USA. The funding has not been granted as yet.