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Proposal for an observatory for the detection of gravitational waves



gravitational waves

Visualization of a supercomputer simulation of the merging of black holes sending gravitational waves. Credit: NASA / C. Henze

Researchers could find more fusions of black holes and neutron stars with plans for a new leading observatory for gravitational waves in Europe to get one step closer.


A proposal has been sent to include the Einstein Telescope (ET) in the roadmap of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), which would allow the observation of the entire universe by gravitational waves.

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

7;s general theory of relativity and realize accurate astronomy of gravitational waves.

Professor Stuart Reed, Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Strathclyde, is the appointed co-chair of optics for ET. He is the only member of the UK Scientific Council for ET Instruments and is responsible for the mirror technology that forms the heart of the proposed infrastructure.

This is based on Strathclyde’s international leading role in the production of laser coatings with extreme characteristics, which is carried out in partnership with the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow and associate colleagues from the University of Western Scotland.

Black holes

Professor Reed said: “Future gravitational wave observatories, such as the proposed ET, mean that researchers can detect more mergers of black holes and neutron stars, allow us to outline how the universe is expanding and observe entirely new events. The unique triangular shape it will provide more information than astrophysical signals, better identify the sources of the sky, and push the 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 policy-making for research infrastructures in Europe, and the design of ET is supported by grants from the European Commission and a consortium of around 40 research institutions and universities across Europe, which formally presented the proposal.

Underground tunnels

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

ET will 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 gravitational waves emitted by two merging neutron stars were observed.

The recent observation by Advanced Virgo and Advanced LIGO of the merging of two stellar black holes to create one 142 times more massive than the Sun, announced on September 2, 2020, showed the existence of such hitherto unknown objects in our universe.

A full generation of observatories is needed to reach its full potential, and ET would allow scientists to detect the coalescence of two medium-mass black holes throughout the universe and help understand its evolution.

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


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Provided by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Quote: Proposal for an Observatory for the Detection of Gravitational Waves (2020, 15 September) downloaded on 16 September 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-09-observatory-gravitational.html

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