Approved FOM programme
|Title||Gravitational physics - the dynamics of spacetime (GW)|
|Executive organisational unit||Nikhef en BUW|
|Programme management||Prof.dr. J.F.J. van den Brand|
|Duration||2010 - 2017|
|Cost estimate||M€ 2.9|
To detect gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of space-time, that are produced by violent events throughout the Universe.
Background, relevance and implementation
Nikhef, VU University Amsterdam and Radboud University in Nijmegen, participate in this gravitational physics programme. Nikhef and VU University Amsterdam are involved in the Virgo experiment, while all groups are dedicated to NGO and Einstein Telescope. These instruments will be sensitive to gravitational waves produced over a wide frequency range, for example, by massive black holes, binary white-dwarf stars and phase transitions in the early Universe. Gravitational-wave detection opens up the possibility to test general relativity itself in the strong-field regime, to study questions about spacetime, cosmology and structure in the Universe, and would be the first step on the experimental road to quantum gravity.
The Virgo detector for gravitational waves consists mainly of a Michelson laser interferometer made of two orthogonal arms being each 3 kilometres long. Virgo is located within the site of EGO, European Gravitational Observatory, based at Cascina, near Pisa on the river Arno plain. The Virgo collaboration has developed advanced techniques in the field of high power ultra-stable lasers, high reflectivity mirrors, seismic isolation and position and alignment control. On 2 July 2009, Nikhef became associate member of the EGO Council.
The Next Gravitational Observatory, NGO, will be an interferometer in space. LNGO consists of three spacecrafts five million kilometers apart and is considered for launch bij ESA. It does not suffer from unwanted vibrations that plague similar instruments on the ground. Radboud University contributes to its science case.
Einstein Telescope will be a third-generation gravitational-wave observatory. Three interferometers with 10 km arms are placed underground to suppress micro-seismic noise. Optical components are placed in an ultra-high vacuum and cryogenic environment. Nikhef contributes to the science case and is the leading institute in coordinating the work package on site selection and infrastructure.
Partners in this programme are RU and VU.
The final evaluation of this programme will consist of a self-evaluation initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen for 2017.
Please find a research highlight that was achieved in 2014 within this FOM programme here.