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 Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling
29.03.2017 | New Jersey Institute of Technology

nachricht NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts
28.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>