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Proposal for an observatory for the detection of gravitational waves



gravitational waves

A visualization of a supercomputer simulation of fusion of black holes emitting gravitational waves. Credit: NASA / C. Henze

Scientists were able to detect several fusions of black holes and neutron stars with plans for a new flagship gravitational wave observatory in Europe that moved one step closer.


A proposal has been made to include the Einstein Telescope (ET) in the Roadmap of the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), which will enable observation of the entire universe through gravitational waves.

ET is a proposed ground-based gravitational wave detector that will be able to test Einstein̵

7;s general theory of relativity and realize precision gravitational wave astronomy.

Professor Stuart Reid, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Strathclyde, has been appointed co-chair of optics at ET. He is the only UK member of the Instrument Science Board for ET and is responsible for the mirror technology that is at the heart of the proposed infrastructure.

This is based on Strathclyde’s internationally leading role in the production of extreme performance laser coatings, conducted in partnership with the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow and affiliated colleagues at the University of the West of Scotland.

Black holes

Professor Reid said: “Future gravitational wave observatories such as the proposed ET mean scientists could detect multiple fusions of black holes and neutron stars, allow us to map how the expansion of the universe and observe completely new events. The unique triangular shape will provide more information from the astrophysical signals, locate the sources better in the sky and will push scientific understanding of how matter and gravity behave by testing Einstein’s theory of gravity in strong gravitational fields. “

The Forum plays a key role in the decision-making process on research infrastructures in Europe, and the design of ET has been supported by grants from the European Commission and a consortium of around 40 research institutions and universities across Europe, which have officially submitted the proposal.

Undergrown tunnels

The observatory will require 30 km of underground tunnels that form a triangular shape and will use lasers to measure the stretching and squeezing of space-time from massive and violent astrophysical events.

ET would build on the scientific achievements of Advanced Virgo in Europe and Advanced LIGO in the United States over the past five years. It began with the first direct detection of gravitational waves in September 2015 and continued in August 2017, when the gravitational waves emitted by two coincident neutron stars were observed.

The recent observation by Advanced Virgo and Advanced LIGO of the fusion of two star-black holes to create a 142 times more massive than the Sun, announced on September 2, 2020, demonstrated the existence of such previously unknown objects in our universe.

To fully exploit the potential, a new generation of observatories is needed, and ET would enable scientists to detect any confusion of two medium-high black holes throughout the universe and help understand its evolution.

Two sites for ET, which are hoped to be operational in the mid-2030s, are being evaluated, the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, on the borders of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and in Sardinia, Italy, with a decision expected within the next five years.


Scientists reveal a lost eight billion light-years from the evolution of the universe


Provided by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Citation: Proposal for observatory for the detection of gravitational waves (2020, 15 September) retrieved 16 September 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-09-observatory-gravitational.html

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