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The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) has updated its 2021 research roadmap. One of its newest additions is the Einstein Telescope, a collaborative project between the Netherlands and nine other European countries. This future underground observatory for gravitational waves will be much more sensitive than existing detectors, allowing scientists to peek into the ‘dark ages’ of the universe for the first time.
Gravitational waves can offer a new way of studying the universe as they make it possible to examine vibrations of spacetime itself. Until their first detection in 2015, scientists could only look at light or radiation. Albert Einstein already predicted the existence of gravitational waves more than a hundred years ago. However, he didn’t expect it would be possible to ever detect them. Thanks to breakthroughs in technology over the century, scientists and engineers have now managed to reach the sensitivity and precision levels needed for observation.
“The ESFRI status is a major step towards the realization of this European project,” says research infrastructure consortium coordinator Stan Bentvelsen of the Dutch Institute for Subatomic Physics, Nikhef. “Scientifically, the Einstein Telescope is undisputed, and with the ESFRI status, there’s indispensable recognized support for its quality and impact. We’re looking ahead to further develop the plans together with all countries involved.”