Like the current generation of detectors, Cosmic Explorer features an L-shaped geometry and houses a single interferometer. This conventional design allows us to leverage decades of experience with current gravitational-wave detectors to ensure project success.
The scale of Cosmic Explorer is set by our astro-physical sources. A 40 kilometer long detector, 10 times longer than Advanced LIGO, is well suited to detecting signals from binary neutron star systems and core-collapse supernovae up to 4 kHz in frequency. This length also provides sensitivity sufficient to detect binary black holes from anywhere in the Universe (up to redshift of roughly 100).
While the lay-out of Cosmic Explorer follows the conventional design, the technology used for the detector will be updated to reflect the successes of on-going reseach. One such research effort is the exploration of silicon optics operating at 123K which enable the use of ultra-low-noise optical coatings.
Due to the nature of gravitational waves, detector length is critial to performance. It is, however, also a cost-driver for this type of big science project. We are actively exploring ways to extend industrial pipeline technology and novel vacuum sytems to provide an affordable design.
Binary Black Hole Merger
The gravitational cataclysm which happens when a pair of black holes merge is a mind boggling event, even for scientists accostomed to dealing with the Einstein's general theory of relativity. Gravitational waves were first observed from one of these events by LIGO in 2015, and they have given us a glipse of a previously unknown side of the Universe.
Binary Neutron Star Merger
The merger of a pair of neutron stars provides a unique laboratory for studying ultra-dense nuclear matter. The first such merger observed in gravitational waves, GW170817, was also observed by electromagnetic telescopes acreoss the spectrum, yeilding what as been called "a century of physics in a day".
The Crab Nebula
There are many potential science targets for Cosmic Explorer beyond black-hole and neutron-star binaries. Among them are core collapse supernova, continuous-wave sources like rotating isolated neutron-stars, and even a stochastic gravitational-wave background!
US 3G Effort Funded by NSF
The National Science Foundation has awarded a collaborative grant to 5 US institutions to study the science case for an international network of next-generation gravitational-wave detectors, and the potential avenues for construction of a 3G detector in the United States [award 1836814].
The grant started in August, 2018, and the collaboration is working with the GWIC 3G effort to develop a comprehensive vision of 3G science. Development of a cost model for Cosmic Explorer is also an integral part of the work, which is currently incorporating the results of the NSF Workshop on Large Ultrahigh Vacuum Systems for Frontier Scientific Research Instrumentation [award 1846124, final report].
by Matthew Evans , 13 August 2018Read more