A proposal for the new generation Einstein Telescope observatory — potential infrastructure of the future
2020-09-11 08:00:00
The Einstein Telescope is an ambitious third-generation gravitational-wave ground-based observatory project.

The proposal to include the project in the 2021 update of the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap has been signed by 40 European institutions, eight of which are Spanish.

Spanish researchers have contributed significantly to the development of the project’s physics program, as well as to the preparation of its technical design report. 

The Einstein Telescope (ET) is the most ambitious project for a future terrestrial observatory for gravitational waves (GWs). The conceptual design of this pioneering third-generation observatory has been supported by a grant of the European Commission. Now, a consortium of European countries and of research institutions and universities has officially submitted the proposal for the realisation of such an infrastructure in the 2021 update of the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap [1]. 

The ET consortium brings together about 40 research institutions and universities in several European countries, including France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Among the institutions that signed the proposal, eight are Spanish [2]. The proposal also has the political support of Belgium, Poland, Spain and The Netherlands, and is led by Italy. Its transnational headquarters was established at the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) in Italy. 

The amazing scientific achievements of Advanced Virgo (in Europe) and Advanced LIGO (in the USA) in the last 5 years initiated the era of GW astronomy. The adventure began with the first direct detection of gravitational waves in September 2015 and continued in August 2017 when the two observatories observed gravitational waves emitted by two merging neutron stars. Simultaneously, signals of this event were observed with a variety of electromagnetic telescopes —on the ground and in space— over the entire observable wavelength range —from radio waves to gamma rays—. This marked the beginning of the era of multi-messenger astronomy with gravitational waves.

Caption: Artist impression of the Einstein Telescope. 
Credits: NIKHEF - Marco Kraan

The recent observation of the merging of two black holes to create one 142 times more massive than the Sun —a so-called Intermediate Mass Black Hole— demonstrated the existence of such previously unknown objects in our Universe. The Einstein Telescope will enable scientists to detect any merge of two intermediate-mass black holes in the entire universe and thus contribute to the understanding of its evolution. This will shed new light on the Dark Universe and will clarify the roles of dark energy and dark matter in the structure of the cosmos. ET will explore the physics of black holes and will detect thousands of coalescences of neutron stars improving our understanding of the behaviour of matter under such extreme conditions of density and pressure. In addition, we will have a chance to explore the nuclear physics underlying the supernova explosions of the stars.

These challenging scientific targets need a new observatory capable of observing GWs with a sensitivity at least one order of magnitude better than the current detectors (the so-called second generation). The Einstein Telescope will be located in a new infrastructure and will apply technologies that are dramatically improved over the current ones. Two sites for the development of the ET infrastructure are currently being evaluated: the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, at the borders of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, and Sardinia, Italy.  It is hoped that a companion project in the US, Cosmic Explorer, will follow.

The Einstein Telescope has aroused great interest in the Spanish scientific community involved in gravitational waves, which includes all the centers that currently participate in ground-based (LIGO / Virgo / KAGRA) and space (LISA) programs. Spanish researchers have contributed significantly to the development of the ET physics program, as well as to the preparation of its technical design report. Furthermore, motivated by the development of new technologies and the potential significant returns for Spanish industry, explicit support was also provided by research institutions, including some “Singular Scientific and Technical Infrastructures” (ICTS). In total, up to 23 Spanish institutions supported the ESFRI initiative [3].
[1] The European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap describes the future major research infrastructures in Europe. 

[2] List of Spanish Institutions that have signed the ET ESFRI proposal: Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC), Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB), Institute of Structure of Matter (IEM), Institute of Physics of High Energy (IFAE), Institute of Theoretical Physics (IFT-CSIC), University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) and University of Valencia (UV).

[3] List of Spanish Institutions that initially supported the ET ESFRI initiative: Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC), Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB), ALBA Synchrotron, Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), Canfranc Underground Laboratory (LSC), Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Institute of Structure of Matter (IEM), Institute of High Energy Physics (IFAE), Institute of Corpuscular Physics (IFIC-CSIC), Institute of Theoretical Physics (IFT-CSIC), Port d'informació Científica (PIC), RedIris, University of Alicante (UA), Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), University of the Balearic Islands (UIB), University of Cádiz (UC), University of Murcia (UMU) , University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), University of Salamanca (USAL), University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) and University of Valencia (UV). The candidacy was also supported by the Spanish Society of Relativity and Gravitation (SEGRE).


- Einstein Telescope

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The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors.  

IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).


Caption: Artist impression of a gravitational wave.
Credits: JPL- Caltech

Caption: Recreation of the Einstein Telescope Pathfinder. 
Credits: NIKHEF - Marco Kraan


IEEC Communication Office
Barcelona, Spain

Ana Montaner Pizà

Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC)
Barcelona, Spain

Carlos F. Sopuerta 

Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICC-UB)
Barcelona, Spain

Jordi Portell i de Mora

Institute of High Energy Physics (IFAE)
Barcelona, Spain

Member of the Einstein Telescope Directive Committee
Mario Martínez
Attached Documents
Generalitat de CatalunyaUniversitat de BarcelonaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasCentres de Recerca de Catalunya