Gravitational waves detection
will open a totally new window in the observation of the Universe and in the understanding of its origin and evolution.
The gravitational waves observation window is complementary to other windows of observation already available with other cosmic radiation.
These are represented by the observation of light and the other electromagnetic waves that are emitted by stars, galaxies and other celestial bodies and by the detection of cosmic ray particles.
A collaboration was set up to design and then build a world-class interferometer, called VIRGO
, with two 3 km-long perpendicular arms
, to detect and measure gravitational waves.
The VIRGO collaboration is the result of a French-Italian co-operative effort among 19 laboratories and institutes.
When finally commissioned, it is expected that VIRGO’s sensitivity will be capable of measuring strains that are smaller than the dimension of an atom with respect to the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
The funding institutions of the VIRGO collaboration (CNRS
– Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - for France, and INFN
– Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare - for Italy) decided in December 2000 the creation of EGO.
They established EGO as a consortium between themselves, operating under the Italian law within the legal framework of a private company.
Once completed the construction of the interferometer in 2003, VIRGO started the commissioning phase. In 2007, after approaching the design sensitivity in a major part of the accessible frequency range, VIRGO performed its first scientific data taking run, lasting from May 18 to October first.
Today a two step (“VIRGO+” and “Advanced VIRGO”) upgrade/data-taking program is ongoing, in order to improve the sensitivity by 10 times within 2013. Reaching this goal will increase by 1000 times the volume of explored universe and by the same factor the gravitational wave detection probability. At that time scientists are confident that probability will turn into certitude.
EGO has been given the mission to ensure the long term scientific exploitation of VIRGO as well as to foster European collaboration in the field of gravitational waves observation. EGO is providing VIRGO with the supporting infrastructure, including buildings, networks, computing facilities, administration, general services, maintenance as well as support for the interferometer operation and upgrade.
EGO is open to the participation of institutions from other European countries as well to the collaboration in the field of gravitational waves research with institutions and laboratories worldwide
EGO with VIRGO is located in the territory of Cascina, a small town a few kilometres from Pisa, in grounds belonging to INFN.
The governing body of EGO is the Council, the members of which are nominated by the funding institutions. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), advises the Council on scientific and technical activities carried out by the Consortium.
EGO welcomes you to its web site, where you will find details about its location and its organisation as well as useful links to the Virgo web pages and to relevant information about gravitational waves and their detectors.
The historic begginings of Virgo:
A. Giazzoto, "Interferometric detection of gravitational waves" (Pysics Report, 1989)
A. Brillet, A. Giazotto et al., "VIRGO Proposal for the construction of a large interferometric detector of gravitational waves" (1989)
A. Brillet, A. Giazotto et al., "VIRGO Final Concept Design" (1992)