Define gravitational waves. What are the tangible benefits of detecting and studying the gravitational waves? Explain.

Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time caused due to the energetic processes in the universe and travel outward from the source which created them. Massive accelerating objects (like black holes or neutrons orbiting each other) would disrupt the space time fabric leading to the creation of gravitational waves. This was first predicted by Einstein through his theory of relativity.
Gravitational waves are detected using special observatories. Gravitational waves travel at high speed. When they pass through a body they will cause distortions in the form of stretching or compression. These distortions are too negligible to be able to measure. i.e. 3 mm in 10^23 m long rod.
Specially designed LIGO tunnels detect these distortions using laser detectors. The data thus obtained is studied to know the origin of these waves.
Need to study gravitational waves:

  • They will aid in better understanding of the universe and its evolution.
  • As they are created by the activities of massive accelerating objects. They aid in understanding various process in the universe.

Gravitational waves hold key for better understanding of universe. India has initiated the project IndIGO (Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations) in the in the Hingoli district of Maharashtra.


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