Quick Questions on Virgo: “What are the main sources of noise for Virgo?”

This post is part of a series about quick questions and answers about the Virgo experiment and the science of gravitational waves. Do you have a quick question? Tell us and we will reply!

What are the main sources of noise for Virgo?

The noise has several origins and can generate spurious signals in the range of frequencies observed by Virgo. A first example of these sources of disturbance are the seismic noise, the ground motion induced by sea waves impacting on the seashore, the human activity or other effect like microseisms. There is also the thermal noise induced by the random vibrations of mirror surfaces. Other noises are related to fundamental physics, like the so-called shot noise due to the quantum nature of the laser light. In order to measure the passage of gravitational waves, it is mandatory to reduce these background noises. That is achieved by careful instrument design and the use of innovative technologies.

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Picture of elements of a Virgo suspension

Three elements that attenuate the vertical vibrations are visible. The wire used to suspend one to each other is also visible.
The vacuum tank is opened but protective plastic sheets have been placed all around the suspension to protect it against dust.
Credits: Virgo Collaboration

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