In what can be considered as a landmark discovery earlier this year, 60 scientists from India have contributed in successfully detecting gravitational waves, first hypothesized by the genius Albert Einstein almost a century ago.

Opening a new window to the world of studying the cosmos, the discovery is a fruit of a worldwide collaboration between scientists.

Here are the front runners from India who made this discovery possible:

1) Name: Sanjeev Dhurandhar


dhurandar

Age: 64
Occupation: Emeritus professor, IUCAA, Pune

Pune born scientist Sanjeev Dhurandhar was one of the 1,000 key scientists actively involved in discovery of the gravitational waves. As early as the 80's, when the whole world was obsessing on electromagnetic wave, Sanjeev was sure about this scientific marvel's existence.

While Dhurandhar was adamant about his belief, the scientific community wasn't very welcoming to him initially. During his PhD, when he tried seeking funds for building the world’s biggest 100-metre interferometer to detect gravitational waves, he was politely turned away for not having enough credibility. For the unaware, Interferometers are basically investigative tools used in various fields of science and engineering.

Fast forward today, the Pune born scientist is now considered as the foundation holding up the country's gravitational wave research. He has successfully developed novel algorithms on the way to extract gravitational wave signals from the noise created from sources such as black holes, and how to do the same with several detectors – all of this has been put to use in discovering the gravitational wave.

2) Name: Anand Sengupta


sengupta

Age: 40
Occupation: Faculty, Physics, Indian Institute of Technology - Gandhinagar

When Anand Sengupta was first informed about the first gravitational wave, he didn't believe it to be to be true and thought of it as a mere “injection”. He thought that it was just another case of textbook injection to make sure that the search groups are doing their working properly, all the protocols are in their proper place for due diligence and that frequent checks are being carried out by various programmes.

But, when he finally realised it was true, he was very joyous for his and his team's efforts. He does however feel that though the discovery is a historic one, it is just an isolated one in nature. He believes that more detections are needed and there is also a requirement to locate the sources by using other telescopes.

He and his group meticulously worked on matched filtering algorithm in order to pull out the weak signals.

The group is currently working on an algorithm that will be able to successfully separate background noise from the true gravitational wave event by making use of machine learning.

3) Name: Parameswaran Ajith


ajith

Age: 35
Occupation: Leads astrophysical relativity group, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences – Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore

Ajith was vacationing in Kerala when he got informed about a “trigger” in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors that primarily looked as it was from a binary black hole. The trigger in the LIGO detectors triggered Ajith to cut short his vacation in Kerala and come back to work in Bangalore. It was after three weeks of continuous work that his team was successfully in getting its first results. After this, the team's preliminary results came out in just ten days which were then sent for further revision and review.

In what could be considered a major coincidence, just three months prior to the discovery, Ajith and his group at ICTS-TIFR had released a paper where they had talked about the method to infer the mass and spin of the black holes that determines the shape of the gravitational wave.

4) Name: Archana Pai


pai

Age: 42
Occupation: Faculty, physics, Indian Institute of Science Research and Education, Thiruvananthpuram

A faculty of physics at the Indian Institute of Science Research and Education in Thiruvananthpuram, Pai believes that even more than the event itself, the fact that the discovery was made in the 100th year since Albert Einstein first predicted it, matters more to her.

According to her, even though her group did believe that the detection of the gravitational wave would require more sensitivity and that would possibly happen in the advanced LIGO, she didn't expect the first defection to happen this soon. But, after the initial awe and surprise, they started following what the data was meaning to communicate. Pai and her group of talented scientists tested the gravitational wave from the event and found it to be in consistency with Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Even India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi was joyous about India's contribution in this discovery and tweeted, "Immensely proud that Indian scientists played an important role in this challenging quest."

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