Italy delays restart of its gravitational wave detector Virgo

After three years of upgrades, the engineers running Italy’s Virgo gravitational wave detector have decided to delay its restart later this month due to unexplained noise issues found inside some older components.

Getting to these parts to find the cause of the noise however will not be simple, as they are housed inside a vacuum chamber.

[According to Virgo spokesperson Gianluca Gemme. “Until we break the vacuum and open the towers to check the interferometer components directly, we cannot be one hundred percent sure what the problem is. … We therefore decided to take action now to resolve the technical issue that is slowing down the interferometer’s sensitivity growth. These are operations that, apart from the work we will have to do, involve time to remove and then restore the ultra-high vacuum conditions.

Once this work is completed it will then require further testing to make sure all is well. It is therefore unclear when Virgo will resume observations.

Meanwhile, the two detectors in the United States plan to resume operations as scheduled later this month. Without Virgo working in tandem, however, the resolution for any detections will be reduced.