A new type of gravitational wave detector to find tennis ballsized black holes


“Detecting primordial black holes opens up new perspectives to understand the origin of the Universe, because these still hypothetical black holes are supposed to have formed just a few tiny fractions of a second after the Big Bang. Their study is of great interest for research in theoretical physics and cosmology, because they could notably explain the origin of dark matter in the Universe”. You can see stars in the eyes of the members of the group led by Professor Fuzfa, astrophysicist at UNamur, when speaking about the point of views of their research study. This job is the outcome of an unmatched partnership in between the UNamur and ULB, to which the ENS included thanks to the participation of trainee student Léonard Lehoucq.

The concept was to integrate the UNamur knowledge in the field of gravitational wave antennas, a concept patented by Professor F?zfa in 2018 and studied by Nicolas Herman as part of his doctorate, with that of ULB in the thriving field of primitive black holes, in which Professor Clesse is one of the main gamers. They have actually simply established an application of this type of detector in order to observe “small” primitive black holes. Their outcomes have actually simply been released in the journal Physical Review D. “To this day, these primordial black holes are still hypothetical, because it is difficult to make the difference between a black hole resulting from the implosion of a star core and a primordial black hole. Being able to observe smaller black holes, the mass of a planet but a few centimeters in size, would make the difference,” the group of scientists states. They continue: “We are offering experimenters a device that could detect them, by capturing the gravitational waves they emit when merging and which are of much higher frequencies than those currently available”.

But what is the strategy? A gravitational wave “antenna”, made up of a particular metal cavity and appropriately immersed in a strong external electromagnetic field. When the gravitational wave goes through the electromagnetic field, it creates electro-magnetic waves in the cavity. In a method, the gravitational wave makes the cavity “hiss” (resonate), not with noise however with microwaves.

This type of gadget, simply a couple of meters in size, would suffice to identify blends of primitive little black holes millions of light years from Earth. It is a lot more compact than the frequently utilized detectors (LIGO, Virgo and KAGRA interferometers) which are a number of kilometers long. The detection technique makes it delicate to extremely high frequency gravitational waves (in the order of 100 MHz, compared to 10-1000 Hz for LIGO / Virgo / Kagra), which are not produced by normal astrophysical sources such as blends, neutron stars or outstanding black holes.

On the other hand, it is perfect for the detection of little black holes, the mass of a world and its size goes from a little ball to a tennis ball. “Our detector proposal combines well mastered and everyday life technologies such as magnetrons in microwave ovens, MRI magnets and radio antennas. But don’t take your household appliances apart right away to start the adventure: read our article first, then order your equipment, understand the device and the signal that awaits you at the output,” the scientists state laughingly.

This trademarked strategy is presently at the phase of advanced theoretical modeling, however has all the required aspects to go into a more concrete stage, with the building and construction of a model. In any case, it leads the way for essential research study into the origins of our Universe. In addition to primitive black holes, this type of detector might likewise straight observe the gravitational waves gave off at the time of the Big Bang, and therefore probe physics at much greater energies than the ones attained in particle accelerators.

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