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November 17th 2019

Approved FOM programme

Number 162.
Title First direct detection of gravitational waves with Advanced Virgo (VIRGO)
Executive organisational unit FOM-Nikhef en BUW
Programme management Prof.dr.ing. J.F.J. van den Brand
Duration 2015-2020
Cost estimate M€ 1.3

The objective
Advanced Virgo is a high-tech project that employs state of the art laser interferometry to discover the gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime, that were predicted by Einstein. With this program the alignment and performance of the optics of Virgo will be optimized. Optical low latency signals from the violent processes in the universe that cause the gravitational waves are studied. Ultimately the observed gravitational waves are analyzed to probe the fundamental nature of gravity, which determines the history and future of our Universe.

Background, relevance and implementation
The Netherlands has made significant investments in Virgo during the last five years, with Nikhef, VU and RU-IMAPP taking important tasks and responsibilities in instrumentation such as vibration isolation systems, optical sensors, and cryogenic vacuum links. The groups also contributed to the development of analysis algorithms and pipelines for finding and studying gravitational wave signals from both coalescing binaries and continuous sources such as pulsars.
The programme allows the groups to participate in the scientific exploitation of Advanced Virgo at the most exciting phase of the project. Precisions measurements of the effects of strong and dynamic gravitational fields will be carried out. Such measurements will reveal any imperfections in Einstein's successful General Relativity and may show us a way towards the real theory of gravity.

The final evaluation will be based on the self-evaluation report initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen for 2020.