The European Space Agency (ESA) has approved the development of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). Three satellites with lasers arranged in a triangular shape will form a constellation on Earth to usher in a new phase in the study of gravitational waves from space.
The LISA project was shelved for three decades. This year the ESA accepted The technology is advanced enough to enable it. Once the process is complete, scientists will install an acoustic receiver with Earth year-round based on three spacecraft at a distance of 2.5 million kilometers.
The antenna will detect gravitational waves with greater precision and sensitivity than the current Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US. Signals are disturbances in spacetime that travel at the speed of light resulting from the most violent events in the universe, such as the collision of two black holes. The theory of general relativity, proposed by Albert Einstein, predicted these waves and 100 years later they were confirmed at the LIGO Center.
This is how the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) works
LISA detects waves by sending laser signals between devices. Karsten Tanzmann, director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hannover, Germany, explains that the LISA probes are capable of measuring the bending distance of light with an accuracy of one billionth of a meter. If a violent event disrupts the structure of space-time, the laser outputs will undergo detectable changes and the origin of the wave will be known.
Earth-based detectors like LIGO must contend with the planet's intrinsic motions and other cosmic perturbations. In the vacuum of space, antennas are not moved by vibrations or atmospheric conditions. To enhance its sensitivity, each vessel contains a 4.6-centimeter floating cube of gold and platinum. It ensures the localization of gravitational waves with wavelengths from 300 thousand to three billion kilometers. This scale is made up of the longest observed by LIGO and the shortest observed by pulsar time series.
The space antenna probes the nature of the universe through sound waves. Therefore, its purpose is beyond its detection. According to the official portal of the project, the formation of binary star systems, to observe the evolution of black holes, to study the dynamics of incredibly massive star clusters, to investigate the fundamental nature of gravity and finally, to ask the ratio. expands the universe.
Ask it to give a new dimension to the universe
The LISA project represents a different way of understanding the cosmic environment. So far, astronomical knowledge has been based on capturing visible light and its variations, such as infrared or X-rays. Gravitational wave data will continue to be tested by next-generation instruments such as the Euclidean telescope. Measure dark matter. “Combining this with the detection of gravitational waves brings a new dimension to our perception of the universe,” explains LISA project scientist Oliver Jenrich.
ESA said construction of the probes will begin in 2025 and their launch in 2035. For now, the space agency's directors are looking for a contractor to bring the space antenna to life with a laser interferometer.
“Until now, with our astrophysical missions, we've been observing the universe as a silent movie, imagining that capturing the ripples of spacetime with LISA would be a real game-changer, just like adding sound to movies,” Jenrich concluded.