Next step towards a gravitational-wave observatory in space

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03:57:36
October
26 2016

Next step towards a gravitational-wave observatory in space

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While ground-based detectors are sensitive to gravitational waves with frequencies of around 100 Hz - or a hundred oscillation cycles per second - an observatory in space will be able to detect lower-frequency waves, from 1 Hz down to 0.1 mHz. #Gravitational waves with different frequencies carry information about different events in the cosmos, much like astronomical observations in visible light are sensitive to stars in the main stages of their lives while X-ray observations can reveal the early phases of stellar life or the remnants of their demise.

In particular, #low-frequency gravitational waves are linked to even more exotic cosmic objects than their higher-frequency counterparts: supermassive black holes, with masses of millions to billions of times that of the Sun, that sit at the centre of massive galaxies. The #Waves are released when two such black holes are coalescing during a merger of galaxies, or when a smaller compact object, like a neutron star or a stellar-mass black hole, spirals towards a supermassive black hole.

Observing the oscillations in the fabric of spacetime produced by these powerful events will provide an opportunity to study how galaxies have formed and evolved over the lifetime of the Universe, and to test Einstein’s general relativity in its strong regime.

Concepts for ESA’s L3 mission will have to address the exploration of the Universe with low-frequency gravitational waves, complementing the observations performed on the ground to fully exploit the new field of gravitational astronomy. The planned launch date for the mission is 2034.

Lessons learned from #LISA Pathfinder will be crucial to developing this mission, but much new technology will also be needed to extend the single-satellite design to multiple satellites. For example, lasers much more powerful than those used on LISA #Pathfinder, as well as highly stable telescopes, will be necessary to link the freely falling masses over millions of kilometres.

Large missions in ESA’s Science Programme are #ESA-led, but also allow for international collaboration. The first large-class mission is Juice, the #JUpiter ICy moons Explorer, planned for launch in 2022, and the second is Athena, the Advanced Telescope for #High-ENergy Astrophysics, an #X-ray observatory to investigate the hot and energetic #Universe, with a planned launch date in 2028.

Letters of intent for #ESA’s new gravitational-wave space observatory must be submitted by 15 November, and the deadline for the full proposal is 16 January 2017. The selection is expected to take place in the first half of 2017, with a preliminary internal study phase planned for later in the year.

More information

http://www.cosmos....016-l3-mission-call
For further information, please contact:

Luigi Colangeli
Head of the Coordination Office for the #Scientific Programme
European Space Agency
Email: luigi.colangeli@esa.int

Markus Bauer








#ESA Science and #Robotic Exploration Communication Officer









Tel: +31 71 565 6799









Mob: +31 61 594 3 954









Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

Source by esaint


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