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Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of space-time which propagate as a wave, travelling outwards from the source. Detecting these waves helps to confirm the explanation of gravity as predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity. These waves are detected using interferometers on the ground and in space.
The whole interferometer must remain as optically perfect as possible. Any residual gas would affect the measurement, so the light beam must operate under an ultra-high vacuum.
Virgo has two 3 km long tubes, each 1.2 m in diameter, which are the largest ultra-high vacuum vessels in Europe, and the second largest in the world.
With their innovative design and robustness, the XDS dry scroll pumps have been used for various experimental set-ups, including pre-evacuation and baking out of large chambers.
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a large-scale physics experiment and observatories located over 2 sites: Hanford Site, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana, US.
They were the first to detect cosmic gravitational waves and to develop gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool.