Updated: March 18, 2021 11:44:41 am
Indian researchers, primarily from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, as part of their activity in the LIGO-India Scientific Collaboration (LISC), played a major role in a new analysis performed by the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA (LVK) collaboration.
The analysis team consisting of members from various institutions in the LVK collaboration was led by Dr. Shivaraj Kandhasamy (IUCAA). Signal levels of gravitational waves generated by distant astrophysical sources have been detected by the team, an official statement from IUCAA has said.
Because of the current sensitivity of detectors, researchers said they were not able to individually detect each weak, far-away merger signal. However, the combination of these weak merger signals gives rise to a gravitational-wave background, which may be detectable using a network of gravitational-wave detectors like LIGO and Virgo.
“A detection is plausible with planned improvements to the current detectors. This would be a discovery of enormous astrophysical interest and the searches for anisotropies in the gravitational-wave background will become progressively important. This search will receive a significant sensitivity boost once the LIGO-India observatory comes online,” researchers have said in a statement.
Since the first detection of the binary black hole merger, the LIGO-Virgo detector network has observed gravitational waves from many binary black hole mergers and a couple of binary neutron star mergers. However, these events represent only a small fraction of the total number of binary black hole and binary neutron star mergers happening in the universe.
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“We expect to see direction-dependent features (anisotropies) in these gravitational-wave backgrounds. If observed, the anisotropies could give us insights into the history of the early universe, and also explain how matter is distributed in the nearby universe,” the statement added.
At IUCAA, researchers have also played a key role over the past two decades in development and advancement of the primary algorithm (the “radiometer”) for the research. Recently, new techniques were developed which computationally sped up the analysis by a factor of a few thousand and incorporated tools which were common in manipulating sky-maps in Cosmology. Both the new analysis algorithm and the corresponding software (PyStoch) were primarily developed by present and past IUCAA researchers under the guidance of Prof. Sanjit Mitra (IUCAA).
Apart from this analysis, members of LISC continue to contribute to other analyses carried out by the LVK collaboration. These successes emphasize that Indian researchers are well equipped to do frontier science with LIGO-India once it starts operating.
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