Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Italian-French interferometer Virgo will be inaugurated on July 23rd

30.06.2003


This innovative instrument is aimed to hunt the elusive gravitational waves using extremely sophisticated technological solutions.



On July 23rd in Cascina, near Pisa (Italy), the new Virgo interferometer will be inaugurated. The innovative Virgo gravitational-wave-detector is the outcome of more than ten years of collaborative research and development between the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (Infn, Italy) and the National Scientific Research Centre (Cnrs, France). Letizia Moratti, Italy’s Minister for Education and Research, and Claudie Haigneré, the French Minister for Research and New Technologies, will participate in the inauguration ceremony. Journalists are also being invited to tour the scientific infrastructure and interview researchers.

The existence of gravitational waves is one of the most fascinating puzzles of modern physics. They are predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and their existence has been demonstrated indirectly (Joseph. H. Taylor and Russell A. Hulse received the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1993), but until now it has never been possible to observe them directly. "Gravitational waves are elusive perturbations of space-time curvature, produced by material bodies when accelerating, and can be considered similar to electromagnetic waves emitted by charged particles when they are accelerating. They are difficult to detect, however, because of the fact that they are extremely weak perturbations and, at the best, we can only hope to register those produced by huge phenomenona, like the explosion of a supernova, the interaction between a neutron star and a black hole, or the fusion of two neutron stars belonging to a binary system", says Enzo Iarocci, president of Infn.


"Virgo will reveal these gravitational waves using extremely sophisticated technological solutions. The measurement system is based on a laser beam that is split into two identical and perpendicular beams by a ’beam dividing’ mirror. Each beam goes into an optical hollow (known as a Fabry-Perot cavity) that holds two mirrors, one close by and the other positioned three kilometres away. The beams always travel in a vacuum. Each photon of the beams undergoes an average of 50 reflections before it exits the hollow and returns to the ’beam dividing’ mirror. This mirror then recombines the two beams and another device measures the interference between them. If a gravitational wave collides with the mirrors of the Fabry-Perot cavities, the distance between the mirrors changes and the interference of the two beams becomes disturbed. From the variation of the interference is possible to detect the signal produced by a gravitational wave", explains Adalberto Giazotto, Virgo’s scientific coordinator. To make the system work, it is also necessary to have very advanced mechanical equipment that allows a perfect sealing from the external environment and that prevents perturbations that could mask the passage of the wave. In proportion, the accuracy required to observe the existence of gravitational waves is analogous to the precision needed to measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun with an error lower than the diameter of an atom, but on a scale of billions of times smaller!

"Virgo is the result of a project begun in the 1980s and inspired by the ideas and pioneering development of the Infn team in Pisa, with the collaboration of the Cnrs group, at that time directed by Alain Brillet. Afterwards, other teams from Cnrs, In2P3 and Infn joined the original group of people: in particular, Lal Orsay, Espci Paris, Lapp Annecy, Ipn Lyon, Infn Naples, Infn Perugia, Infn’s National Laboratories of Frascati, Infn Roma 1 and Infn Florence-Urbino. The interferometer has already passed its initial running tests and within the next few months the working of all component systems will be verified. After that, it will begin recording data. The mirrors, made with nanometer precision, and its sophisticated mechanical systems make Virgo one of the most sensitive instruments in the global network, which also includes the American Ligo, the Anglo-German Geo and the Japanese Tama", says Adalberto Giazotto.

At the moment the Virgo project operates in the context of the Ego laboratory (European Gravitational Observatory), built on purpose by Infn and Cnrs. "The difficulty of intercepting the waves hypothesized by Einstein demonstrates that we still have much to understand about gravitational force, even though it has attracted mankind from time immemorial, since among all the forces it is the one that shows the most evident effects in everyday life", says Virgo director Filippo Menzinger.

Italy occupies a prominent position in the field of gravitational wave research and Infn has, among all the detectors in the world, those that permit the exploration of the largest frequency band of gravitational waves. Besides Virgo, two ultracryogenic bars are in active use: Nautilus (at the National Laboratories of Frascati, near Rome) and Auriga (at the National Laboratories of Legnaro, near Padua). These two detectors, which are kept at a temperature very close to absolute zero (-273 Celsius degrees) are thought to be the coldest large objects in the entire Universe. This peculiarity allows the bars to register weak signals from Space, minimizing the perturbations due to internal thermal agitation of molecules.


Filippo Menzinger, Ego Director
Phone: 39-050-752300 - 39-050-752511 - 39-335-732-1386
e-mail: filippo.menzinger@ego-gw.it
Adalberto Giazotto, Virgo Coordinator
Phone: 39-050-752559 - 39-347-371-8870
e-mail: adalberto.giazotto@pi.infn.it

Barbara Gallavotti, Head of the Infn Communication Office
Phone: 39-06-686-8162 - 39-335-660-6075
e-mail: Barbara.Gallavotti@Presid.infn.it

Filippo Menzinger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ego-gw.it/brochure/
http://www.ego-gw.it/inauguration/
http://www.virgo.infn.it/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>