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.”
More articles from Physics and Astronomy:
Researchers Solve Mystery of X-Ray Light From Black Holes
18.06.2013 | Johns Hopkins
Hubble Uncovers Evidence for Extrasolar Planet Under Construction
17.06.2013 | Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)
- Biological fermentation process converts CO and CO2 into bioethanol and platform chemicals
- Process uses energy contained in steel plant off-gases
- Ten-year co-operation to develop and market integrated environmental solutions for the steel industry worldwide
Siemens Metals Technologies and LanzaTech have signed a ten-year co-operation agreement to develop and market integrated environmental solutions for the steel industry worldwide. The collaboration will utilize the ground-breaking fermentation technology developed by LanzaTech transforming carbon-rich off-gases generated by the steel industry into low carbon bioethanol and other platform chemicals. ...
Novel application of 3D printing could enable the development of miniaturized medical implants, compact electronics, tiny robots, and more
3D printing can now be used to print lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand. The printed microbatteries could supply electricity to tiny devices in fields from medicine to communications, including many that have lingered on lab benches for lack of a battery small enough to fit the ...
... two engines aircraft project “Elektro E6”.
The countdown has been started for opening the gates again for the worldwide leading aviation and space event in Le Bourget, Paris from June 17th - 23rd, 2013.
EADCO & PC-Aero will present at the Paris Air Show in Hall H4 booth F-7 their new future aircraft and innovative project: ...
Siemens scientists have developed new kinds of ceramics in which they can embed transformers.
The new development allows power supply transformers to be reduced to one fifth of their current size so that the normally separate switched-mode power supply units of light-emitting diodes can be integrated into the module's heat sink.
The new technology was developed in cooperation with industrial and research partners who ...
Cheaper clean-energy technologies could be made possible thanks to a new discovery.
Led by Raymond Schaak, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, research team members have found that an important chemical reaction that generates hydrogen from water is effectively triggered -- or catalyzed -- by a nanoparticle composed of nickel and phosphorus, two inexpensive elements that are abundant on Earth. ...
19.06.2013 | Life Sciences
19.06.2013 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
19.06.2013 | Studies and Analyses
14.06.2013 | Event News
13.06.2013 | Event News
10.06.2013 | Event News