More Gravitational Observatories

Wednesday, 14th April 2010 by

Just when my non-scientific brain had recovered from writing the recent LIGO post, my co-writer Noel kindly informed me that there are two similar gravitational observatories in Europe: GEO 600 in Germany and VIRGO in Italy.


GEO 600 (Wikipedia, official site), located near Sarstedt, works in conjunction with the LIGO program to try to detect gravitational waves. The ‘arms’ are 3km in length (compared to LIGO’s 4km) and the facility is only visible in the low-res image above.

However, the VIRGO facility is conveniently crossed by a couple of roads driven by the Street View car.


A joint French-Italian project, located near Cascina, VIRGO started its scientific experiments in 2007. It also has ‘arms’ 3km long.


I wonder how the locals feel about living in a house where the back yard is bordered by a large concrete tunnel containing ultra-high-vacuums and high-powered lasers?


I mentioned that my knowledge of all things astrophysical is somewhat lacking, but science has decided that cosmic strings and alteration of space-time really do require more investigation.

Apparently 4km long buildings simply aren’t long enough, so a pair of space agencies are working to create LISA – a trio of spacecraft that will effectively create a gravitational detector with arms 5 million km in length!

Thanks to Noel and Joel Koerwer.