05 July 2017

The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum recently funded a virtual center, called the Indo-US Centre for the Exploration of Extreme Gravity, with ICTS-TIFR and Penn State University as the nodal centers. This center aims to foster a strong Indo-US collaboration in theoretical gravitational-wave physics by supporting several exchange visits of scientists from India and USA.

Apart from ICTS and Penn State, Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are participating institutes in this joint center. Prof. Parameswaran Ajith (ICTS) and Prof. B. S. Sathyaprakash (Penn State) are the principal investigators (PIs) while Profs. Rana Adhikari (Caltech), K. G. Arun (CMI), Yanbei Chen (Caltech), Chad Hanna (Penn State), and Bala Iyer (ICTS) are Co-PIs.

The existence of gravitational waves -- freely propagating oscillations in the fabric of spacetime -- is an intriguing prediction of Einstein’s century old theory of general relativity. The US-based LIGO observatories recently made several detections of gravitational waves from merging black hole binaries. This discovery not only confirms a major prediction of Einstein’s theory but also opens up a fundamentally new observational window onto the Universe and a unique laboratory to test our understanding of many different aspects of modern physics and astrophysics. A sizable team of Indian scientists, including several from ICTS, had contributed to this discovery as part of the international LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Also, scientific teams in India and USA are preparing for the construction of a joint Indo-US gravitational-wave observatory, called LIGO-India, in Indian soil. The presently funded Indo-US Centre for the Exploration of Extreme Gravity will focus on theoretical research in gravitational-wave physics, complementing the ongoing experimental research program.