In a move that will establish a new authority in gravitational waves research, India has made an agreement with the U.S. to set up a new Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project in the country. The agreement was established during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the U.S. for the Nuclear Security Summit.
"Today is an exciting day because it offers the promise of deepening our understanding and opening an even wider window to our universe," said France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation. "We look forward to working closely with our Indian colleagues in this endeavor to further our knowledge of the most energetic phenomena in the cosmos."
LIGO is well known for playing a huge role in the discovery of gravitational waves, supporting Einstein's general theory of relativity and giving scientists a new way to study the universe. The observatory contains a complex lab that helped scientists make the finding, and with India making big steps in the field of astronomy and space research, LIGO will continue to help them make progress.
India's LIGO laboratory will contain sensitive instruments that can detect sub-atomic movements in space and pinpoint activities that stem from gravitational waves passing through the Earth. In combination with LIGO's current twin observatories, India's third detector will help scientists further their understanding of the source and cause of gravitational wave propogation.
"Historic detection of gravitational waves opens up a new frontier for the understanding of the universe," Modi said. "Hope to move forward to make an even bigger contribution with an advanced gravitational wave detector in the country.
"What was significant about this project was that now India has agreed to be a part of this project," added Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India.
In addition to their interest in space exploration and research, India is a prime choice for the LIGO project due to its research-friendly geography. Furthermore, it is reported that the Indian cabinet has approved $180 billion for the ambitious project.
Modi hopes that India's LIGO gravitational waves research will help generate curiosity in young scientists eager to participate in the field following a revolutionary scientific breakthrough.
"In this context, he said that LIGO scientists going to India should have more interactions with Indian universities," Swarup said. "They should meet more of Indian students to inculcate in them the sense of curiosity, the sense of discovery."