With the Einstein Telescope, European scientists and businesses are building the most accurate gravitational-wave observatory ever. This represents a unique opportunity for researchers, businesses and the regional economy. What will it require to build the telescope, and what steps are the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany taking?
Preliminary work in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany
A joint candidacy by three different countries, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, requires thorough preparation. For this reason, a large number of partners are already working together on the project. Some are investigating the suitability of the ground and bedrock in the region, whilst others are building a network of interested companies and scientific institutions or exploring the Einstein Telescope’s likely economic returns. In the end, the three countries will decide at national government level whether to put forward their border region as a possible location. The following institutions and organizations are already involved:
- Nikhef (Nationaal Instituut voor Subatomaire Fysica)
- Radboud Universiteit
- Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
- Universiteit van Amsterdam
- Universiteit Maastricht
- Universiteit Utrecht
- Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
- Provincie Limburg
- Ministerie van Onderwijs Cultuur en Wetenschap
- KU Leuven
- UC Louvain
- Université de Liège
- Université de Mons
- Université de Namur
- Université Libre de Bruxelles
- Universiteit Antwerpen
- Universiteit Gent
- Universiteit Hasselt
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel
- Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
- Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)
- Max-Planck-Institut für Gravitationsphysik (Albert-Einstein-Institut)
- RWTH Aachen
- Universität Hamburg
- Universität Münster
The participating Dutch, Belgian and German scientists are also part of a wider European collaborative effort. This consists of 57 research institutes, all of which want to build an Einstein Telescope in Europe. The scientists are already working together on a design, and they will remain involved with the project in the future, regardless of whether or not it comes to the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.
Before any major piece of research infrastructure is built in Europe, scientists and governments have to determine that the facility really is important for top-level research. This is done through the so-called ESFRI Roadmap, compiled by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures. The European gravitational-wave researchers are currently developing a proposal for inclusion in that roadmap, including the border region between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany as a possible location. If all goes according to schedule, we will know in 2021 whether the Einstein Telescope has been assigned ESFRI status.
Candidacies and choice of location
It is expected that interested European countries will announce their formal candidacies to host the Einstein Telescope in 2022. Sardinia is also currently in the race as a possible location. The final decision on where to site this important facility will probably be made in 2023.