Marie Sklodowska Curie fellows behind scientific highlight of the decade

Einstein was right! 100 years after Einstein's prediction, scientists, 14 of which backed by EU funding, observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 7 November 2016  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Human resources & mobilityMarie Curie Actions
Pure sciencesAstronomy  |  Physics
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
SpaceSpace exploration
Success storiesSpace
Countries involved in the project described in the article
France  |  Germany  |  Italy  |  United Kingdom
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Marie Sklodowska Curie fellows behind scientific highlight of the decade

Visual of an Einstein-Rosen bridge
© ktsdesign - Fotolia.com

Nine of the fourteen early stage researchers supported by the EU Marie Skłodowska Curie actions who worked in the team behind the Gravitational Wave direct detection were directly involved in this discovery.

The GraWIToN project, a Marie Curie Initial Training Network, is coordinated by the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) and involves young researchers directly into the data analysis which lead to the discovery and to the development of the advanced technologies needed to their upgrade.

Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.

This discovery is the culmination of decades of effort by scientists and engineers with very high credentials. For a long time LIGO (the USA Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) detected nothing. But it went through an upgrade, which dramatically boosted its sensitivity, and came fully on line again a few months ago. It has now proved sensitive enough to detect pulses of gravitational waves which it did in September 2015.

The detection of these waves is now a reality and astronomers have a very powerful new tool for studying the universe. Gravitational waves will join the myriad types of light, plus some particles like neutrinos, that scientists already use to probe the far reaches of the universe. European detectors (one of them, the Advanced VIRGO in Italy) are joining the search, and these discoveries will stimulate wider efforts to exploit this fundamentally new channel of information about cosmic phenomena.

Project details

  • Project acronym:GRAWITON
  • Participants:Italy (Coordinator), Germany, UK, France
  • Project Reference N° 606176
  • Total cost: € 3 670 303
  • EU contribution: € 3 670 303
  • Duration:February 2014 - January 2018

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