View beyond the cosmic dawn with Einstein’s telescope – Space and astronomy –


Peek past the cosmic dawn or the period of the formation of the first stars, listen to the faint screams of the primordial universe, and find out if black holes already existed at that time, which were therefore not born from the collapse of stars, but from processes that still existed. everything to understand. This will allow us the Einstein telescope, the future detector of gravitational waves, which is requested to be hosted in Sardinia, in the area of ​​the abandoned mine of Sos Enattos, Italy. Alessandra Buonanno, director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam (Germany) and recipient of the 2021 Balzano Prize, the protagonist of the annual Balzano Lecture at the Milan Planetarium 2023 entitled ‘Gravitational Wave Astronomy’, outlines the expectations for this instrument and for research in the field of multimessenger astronomy : exploring the dark universe’.
The conference is organized by the International Balzan Foundation ‘Premio’ and the Civic Planetarium of Milan Ulrico Hoepli in collaboration with the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Swiss Academies of Sciences and the Municipality of Milan.

Since the first observation of gravitational waves on September 14, 2015, “we have had several observation cycles that allow us to detect an increasingly rich and diverse population of black holes,” explains the researcher, who has received several awards for her contributions to the discoveries of the Ligo and Virgo collaboration. including the 2018 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the 2021 Galileo Galilei Medal and the 2021 Dirac Medal. “We have already detected 73 new gravitational wave signals in the fourth cycle of observations that began last May. that they will be added to the hundred we have already observed. On average – continues Buonanno – we discover a gravitational wave every three days. Data collection will continue until the end of 2024, with even greater instrument sensitivity, so next year we expect more than a hundred new events, mostly caused by black hole binaries. However, it would be fantastic if we could see another neutron star merger among these signals, like the one discovered in 2017.”

Expectations are even greater as we look further into the next decade. “We expect great discoveries, even completely unexpected ones, thanks to future gravitational wave observatories on earth and in space, which will open new frequency windows,” says the expert. One of the most important will be the Einstein telescope, on which the research group from the institute directed by Buonan is also collaborating with regard to the development of curve models useful for the correct interpretation of signals. This gigantic underground interferometer “will be an engine of development and innovation, a great opportunity for the area where it will be built, and for research in general, because it will allow us to look beyond the cosmic dawn, that is, the period when the first stars were formed.” Equally high sensitivity will be offered by the future US Cosmic Explorer observatory, while additional observations can be made from space thanks to Europe’s Lisa mission planned for 2035, in which Italy is participating through the Italian Space Agency.

“Thanks to the greater sensitivity of the instruments, which will allow us to reach lower and lower frequencies – adds Buonanno – we will be able to analyze an increasing number of events, and we will observe some of them so precisely that we will be able to use them. test Einstein’s general relativity We will be able to detect gravitational waves emitted by white dwarf binary systems, but above all we will be able to see new classes of black holes, such as those with masses up to a thousand times that of the Sun, and study black holes with millions of solar masses, such as the one at the center of our galaxy.”

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