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Virgo

The new-generation Virgo

Virgo Collaboration Despite its inauguration in February 2017, the gravitational wave detector is not yet operationalVirgo Collaboration

Advanced Virgo, the European second-generation gravitational wave detector in Italy, was officially inaugurated on February 20, 2017. This interferometer, consisting of two straight arms that each extend outward for three kilometers near Pisa, has been upgraded with new optics and electronics and given greater protection from external forces such as seismic shocks. The objective of the project, which lasted five years and cost €24 million, was to increase the instrument’s sensitivity by a factor of 10. It will enable Virgo to join the two LIGO detectors operating in the United States, which were responsible for confirming the existence of gravitational waves in 2016. Despite the announcement of the start of its second phase, Advanced Virgo is not yet operational. Problems with its new 0.4-millimeter-thick glass threads are expected to delay full operation for months. Commenting in the journal Science, Bruce Allen, director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Germany and a member of the LIGO consortium, said, “The news was very frustrating for everyone.”

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