Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

‘Listen, two black holes are clashing!’

26.11.2004


MiniGRAIL: first spherical gravitational wave antenna in the world

Since last week, Professor Giorgio Frossati of Leiden University’s Institute of Physics can ‘listen’ to gravitational waves. That is, if such a wave happens to come along. Gravitational waves originate from violent clashes between black holes in the universe and from instabilities in neutron stars.

MiniGRAIL is the name of the first spherical gravitational wave antenna in the world. The ball was made at the Leiden Institute of Physics (LION) of Leiden University. It is the product of years of close cooperation between Frossati’s research group and the technicians of the fine-mechanic and electronic workshop in the Institute. “A result to be proud of”, says Professor Peter Kes, LION’s scientific director.



The MiniGRAIL detector is made of copper with a pinch of aluminium (6%), has a diameter of 65 cm and weighs 1150 kilos. If a gravitational wave passes by the antenna, it will transmit a very small part of its energy to the ball. Gravity waves with a frequency of circa 3000 hertz will make the ball vibrate in all kinds of different ways.

Yet, these vibrations are very small, a billionth of a billionth part of a centimetre (10 -20 m), which makes them very difficult to measure. MiniGRAIL will have to attain a sensitivity good enough to detect these ultra-small vibrations. Astronomers predict that at the frequency and amplitude of such ultra-small vibrations various sources of gravitational waves can be measured, like clashes of black holes and instabilities in neutron stars.

In order to preclude false vibrations as much as possible, MiniGrail is built on vibration-free poles, and the ball is cooled down to ultra-low temperatures. At this moment the ball is 4 Kelvin, which is -269 degrees Celsius. This is as cold as it can get in the coldest corners of the universe. In a number of weeks the ball’s temperature will be decreased even more, to reach record depth, and then the scientific race will break loose: who in the world will be the first to measure gravitational waves?

The race will be between American teams, an Italian team and Frossati’s own team. Still, cooperation will be more important than competition. “You can never be sure you have measured a gravitational wave until you have compared notes with the other teams. Only if all of us, simultaneously, have a hit will we know that it was indeed a gravitational wave.”

Eppo Bruins | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nieuws.leidenuniv.nl/index.php3?m=&c=373
http://www.leidenuniv.nl

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: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>