Indian scientists contributed to Nobel Prize in Physics winners’ research on gravitational waves
Two Indian scientists contributed to the discovery of
gravitational waves, which won three US scientists - Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish
and Kip Thorne - the Nobel Prize in physics.
Gravitational waves, first predicted by Albert Einstein more
than 100 years ago.
The waves were first detected in September 2015 in the Laser
Inferometer Gravitational Observatory (LIGO) with contribution from two Indian
scientists - late CV Vishveshwara and Sanjeev Dhurandhar.
India’s participation to LIGO and the discovery as a consequence
began in the late 1980s when Indian scientists started collaborating with LIGO
group in the US to detect gravitational waves.
The Nobel Prize is given to a maximum of three scientists,
even when it (experiment) is a team effort from all over the world.
If this Nobel Prize went to 20 people, Dhurandhar would be
one of them,” Somak Raychaudhary, director, Inter-University Centre for
Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, told HT.
The prize to the top
three is given to those who built LIGO.
But Dhurandhar built the mathematical tool that was very
important to find the tiny vibrations from the passing gravitational waves.
Dhurandhar, 65, referred to as the pillar holding up India’s
gravitational wave research, developed novel algorithms on how to extract
gravitational wave signals from the noise created from sources such as black
holes, and how to do it with several detectors.
Physics Nobel prize winner wanted to come to India to
Known as the black hole man of India, Vishveshwara’s
calculation was also used for the discovery. The 78-year-old died earlier this
The detection of gravitational waves has been among the
major discoveries in the last 100 years.
It’s a collaboration that involves expertise in diverse
discipline, and therefore the Nobel Prize should be spread across more
Thirty-seven Indian authors who are part of the LIGO
Scientific Collaboration made it to the paper on the first detection of
gravitational waves published in Physical Review Letters in 2016.
There have been three more since then; the last one
announced in August.
The Indian team comprising 70 scientists across 13
institutes believe the Nobel Prize couldn’t have come at a better time with
India set to build the third gravitational wave detector (LIGO-INDIA) — most
likely in Maharashtra.
At present, the US has two observatories while Italy houses
the third called the Virgo Interferometer.
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Setting up a detector in India is based on the country’s
geographical advantage since the instrument will form a triangulate along with
the two US-based instruments. These three instruments will help locate the
source of the event that caused a gravitational wave.
The US detectors cover an area of the sky equivalent to
2,500 moons. With the India detector, the area will become 100 times smaller
and therefore LIGO-INDIA is important, said scientists.
In February, 2016 on the first detection of the
gravitational waves, the Union cabinet gave an “in-principle” nod to set up
The estimated Rs 1,260-crore mega science project was first
floated in 2011 is piloted by the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of
Science and Technology (DST) in collaboration with the LIGO Laboratory US-
based Caltech and MIT.