In DepthAstrophysics

European gravitational wave detector falters

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Science  17 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6326, pp. 673-674
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6326.673

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Summary

On 20 February, dignitaries will descend on Virgo, Europe's premier gravitational wave detector near Pisa, Italy, for a dedication ceremony to celebrate a 5-year, €24 million upgrade. But the pomp will belie nagging problems that are likely to keep Virgo from joining its U.S. counterpart, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), in a hunt for gravitational wave sources that was meant to start next month. What has hobbled the 3-kilometer-long observatory: glass threads just 0.4 millimeters thick, which have proved unexpectedly fragile. Virgo should be ready to join LIGO when it resumes observations in spring 2018 after a break, but for now Virgo's sensitivity is compromised.

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