European physicists have developed a plan to build a massive gravitational wave observatory, based on a novel triangular subterranean design, in order to sense tiny fleeting ripples in space. Studying these waves will allow researchers to observe massive astrophysical objects such as black holes. The plan for the observatory jumped a giant hurdle last month when the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) included the unique plan in “Roadmap 2021,” a list of large science projects considered ripe for development. European governments use the Roadmap to set research and funding priorities.
While being named to the list is not a promise of funding, it does signal that the plans for the observatory (dubbed “the Einstein Telescope”) have attained a clear recommendation to be pursued. Gravitational-wave physicists in the US have a similar project (the “Cosmic Explorer”), and US researchers welcomed the announcement, believing that momentum is starting to build in this area of research.
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