Innovation increases observable volume of the universe by a factor of seven | 12/15/2018 | Staff
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The detection of Einstein's gravitational waves relies on highly precise laser measurements of small length changes. The kilometer-size detectors of the international network (GEO600, LIGO, Virgo) are so sensitive that they are fundamentally limited by tiny quantum mechanical effects. These cause a background noise which overlaps with gravitational-wave signals. This noise is always present and can never be entirely removed. But one can change its properties – with a process called squeezing, to date only used routinely at GEO600 – such that it interferes less with the measurement. Now, GEO600 researchers have achieved better squeezing than ever. This opens new ways to improve the international detector network in the next observation runs and is a key step to third-generation detectors such as the Einstein Telescope.

The team from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) and Leibniz Universität Hannover reached a squeezing level of 5.7 dB and therefore suppressed the quantum background noise by a factor of almost two. Compared to a detector without squeezing, this increases the observable volume of the universe by a factor of seven.

Research - Team - Components - Setup - Light

The research team employed newly designed optical components and tuned the optical setup of the squeezed light source and how it is coupled to the detector.

"With the current phase of interface upgrades complete, we've been able to start to fully optimize and characterize the system giving us this marvelous new record in squeezing, enhancing our sensitivity in frequencies important for understanding neutron star physics," says Dr. James Lough, lead scientist for GEO600.

GEO600 - Team - Use

"The GEO600 team has pioneered the use of...
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