The Einstein Telescope is the first and most advanced third-generation gravitational-wave observatory, with unprecedented sensitivity that will put Europe at the forefront of gravitation waves research. The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures included it in its Roadmap 2021. In Poland, the ET consortium is led by the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw.
On 30th June, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) announced the 11 new Research Infrastructures to be included in its Roadmap 2021. Among them is the Einstein Telescope (ET). It confirms the relevance of this major international project for a next-generation gravitational waves observatory for the future of research infrastructures in Europe and gravitational wave research at a global level.
Several research institutions and universities from ten European countries (Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, The Netherlands, UK) comprise the Einstein Telescope consortium. In Poland, the consortium is led by the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw with the participation of several other institutes, including the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center and Astrocent.
“This marks a great leap forward on the path to make the Einstein Telescope a reality. I have huge hopes for the science we will be able to accomplish. Additionally, this opens the door for greater involvement of Polish science and industry in this exciting project,” says Prof. Tomasz Bulik from the UW Astronomical Observatory, the leader of the Polish ET consortium.
The Italian government submitted the proposal on 9th September 2020, supported by the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Spain. The Einstein Telescope was identified after a long and accurate process of evaluation and selection. During the ESFRI Assembly meeting, delegates from 41 countries finally voted in favour of the Einstein Telescope. This official European approval now brings the project into a new phase. The scientific Institutions involved from ten countries will now have to intensify their research and development work on the Einstein Telescope and gravitational waves. It will also speed up the ongoing subsurface studies for the characterisation and evaluation of the candidate sites that could host the underground infrastructure.
A new window on the Universe
The Einstein Telescope is a future underground observatory for gravitational waves. The instrument will be much more sensitive than existing gravitational-wave detectors.
“The Einstein Telescope, with its extremely high sensitivity, will give us a unique opportunity for new and unexpected discoveries. It will detect all stellar mass black hole mergers in the Universe, allow us to probe the inside of neutron stars, test the General Relativity Theory, study the very beginning of the Universe and solve many other crucial problems in astrophysics, cosmology and fundamental physics. Gravitational wave astronomy will enter its golden era with the construction of ET,” stresses Prof. Dorota Rosińska from the UW Astronomical Observatory.
Gravitational waves were detected for the first time in 2015 and provide a new way of studying the Universe. Until their first detection, scientists could only study the Universe by looking at light or radiation, but with gravitational waves, they can observe vibrations of spacetime itself. Although the existence of gravitational waves was already predicted by Albert Einstein a hundred years ago, he did not expect it was possible to ever detect them. Yet, with the mind-blowing technological developments of the last century, scientists and engineers have managed to reach the sensitivity and precision needed to observe them. It opened a new era in the study of the Universe, the era of gravitational wave and multi-messenger astronomy, and led to a Nobel prize in 2017. The Einstein Telescope will lead to many more unimaginable discoveries in the future in this new field of research.
Polish scientists have contributed to the science case of the Einstein Telescope and the site characterisation of the ET candidate sites. A team from the University of Warsaw, Warsaw University of Technology and from Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center installed, developed by the Polish group, optimised for underground measurements, seismic sensor networks in several candidate sites in Poland, Spain, Hungary and Italy to characterise the seismic noise. Currently, they are involved in the detailed characterisation of the Sos Enattos site in Sardinia.