NRW State Parliament Supports Einstein Telescope Project

RWTH participates in the development of a planned European gravitational wave detector. The project may be realized in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.

The Einstein Telescope is a next-generation European gravitational wave detector that may be built in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion. RWTH Aachen University and the Universities of Münster and Bonn have been working on the development of the Einstein Telescope for several years.

As part of the preparatory work, the RWTH geological institutes are currently exploring the underground, while engineers and physicists from RWTH Aachen University have been jointly developing technologies such as novel vacuum tubes, actuators and sensors for adjusting the mirrors. Data evaluation methods are to be driven forward with the help of artificial intelligence.

The state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia has now unanimously agreed to support the construction of this internationally groundbreaking scientific project in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. The Italian island of Sardinia is being considered as a possible alternative location for the telescope.

A New Age of Gravitational Wave Astronomy

The age of gravitational wave astronomy began in 2015 with the first measurement of gravitational waves. In 2017, researchers in this field were awarded with the Nobel Prize in physics.

German scientists have played a major role in gravitational wave research right from the beginning. One of the leading institutions in the field is the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI), with which RWTH Aachen University closely collaborates.

The AEI has developed key technologies, new methods of data analysis, as well as scientific fundamentals in the field. “This expertise is now also flowing into the next generation of projects. If we succeed in establishing the Einstein telescope here in the three-border region, this will give a boost to scientific collaboration in the region and strengthen it as a business location,” explains Prof. Dr. Achim Stahl, head of RWTH’s Physics Institute III B.

There will be only two next-generation gravitational wave observatories worldwide in the coming decades: the Cosmic Explorer in the US and the Einstein Telescope in Europe. At the request of the CDU, SPD, FDP and BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN parliamentary groups, the NRW state parliament has now created an important basis for a possible implementation of the project in the three-border region between Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

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