The Virgo Collaboration
Modern experiments in Physics, such as Virgo, face big challenges and require very large equipment, as well as the dedicated contribution of many researchers, engineers, and technical staff from Institutes in many countries.
The Virgo Collaboration is an international team that works together on the construction, testing, and operations of the Virgo experiment, with the goal of producing high-quality scientific data.
To this scope, the Virgo scientists work closely with their colleagues of other gravitational observatories, including the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory (LIGO) and GEO600 and KAGRA. According to a policy of collaboration with the team working at these gravitational observatories, the data collected by all the detectors is shared and analysed together, and the results are summarised in join publications on scientific journals.
The first idea of the Virgo Collaboration was based on an agreement between Dr. Alain Brillet of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, Orsay) and Dr. Adalberto Giazotto of the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN, Pisa). In the early 80’s, they decided to collaborate in the design a giant instrument to detect gravitational waves, based on the principle of the interference of laser beams.
Stimulated by this challenge, more scientists joined the Virgo Collaboration, which grew rapidly. In 1989 the official proposal for the Virgo experiment was signed by 41 researchers coming from four Italian institutes, four French institutes and a physicist from the University of Illinois at Urbana. The proposal was finally approved on June 27, 1994, when the presidents of CNRS and INFN signed the agreement to build Virgo in Cascina, a small town near Pisa, in Italy. The Final Design Report for the construction of Virgo was signed in May 1997 by 178 researchers, engineers, and technicians, belonging to 11 French and Italian institutes. The instrument was completed in 2003 and started its first run of observations in 2007, after a long series of careful calibrations and tests.
Now the Virgo Collaboration is fully committed to Advanced Virgo, a major upgrade of the experiment that will lead to an improvement in sensitivity of a factor ten, that will allow for the exploration of a volume a thousand time larger than the one observed by the first version of Virgo.
Today, more than 300 people are members of the Virgo Collaboration: they come from many different institutes spread across six European countries: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary and Poland. The National Institute for Subatomic Physics (Nikhef) in the Netherlands joined Virgo in 2006. More recently, in 2010 the POLGRAW group in Warsaw and the KFKI Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics (RMKI) in Budapest joined the Virgo collaboration, and in 2016 the Department of Astronomy-Astrophysics and Mathematics of the University of Valencia.
This is the list of the Institutes, Universities, and Laboratories that participate in the Virgo Collaboration:
APC – Laboratoire AstroParticule et Cosmologie, CNRS/IN2P3 and Université Denis Diderot Paris 7, Paris
ARTEMIS – Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, Nice
LAPP – Laboratoire d’Annecy-le-Vieux de Physique des Particules, CNRS/IN2P3, Annecy-le-Vieux
LAL – Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire, CNRS/IN2P3 et Université Paris-Sud, Orsay and ESPCI ParisTech – Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles, Paris
LMA – Laboratoire des Matériaux Avancés, CNRS/IN2P3 et Université Claude Bernard Lyon I, Villeurbanne
LKB – Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, École Normale Supérieure, Collège de France et CNRS, Paris
Sezione INFN e Università di Firenze – Urbino
Sezione INFN e Università di Genova
Sezione INFN e Università di Napoli
Sezione INFN e Università di Padova – Trento
Sezione INFN e Università di Perugia
Sezione INFN e Università di Pisa
Sezione INFN e Università di Roma 1
Sezione INFN e Università di Roma 2
Wigner RMKI – Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics, Wigner Research Centre for Physics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
IMPAN – Institute of Mathematics – Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
Valencia – Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Mathematics of the University of Valencia