Fr.: interféromètre Virgo
A → Michelson interferometer using → laser beams designed to detect → gravitational waves. It consists of two 3-km-long arms, which house the various machinery required to form a → laser interferometer. The gravitational waves searched for have frequencies between 10 Hz and 10 kHz. Virgo has been designed and built by a collaboration between the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN). It is now operated and improved in Cascina, a small town near Pisa on the site of the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO), by an international collaboration of scientists from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Hungary. The initial Virgo detector observed the sky between 2007 and 2011 together with the two interferometers of the → Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), located in the United States. Virgo underwent a major upgrade after a long shutdown period. The "Advanced Virgo" overhaul lasted 5-year and costed 23 million Euros. The upgraded observatory was inaugurated on 20 February 2017 and, notably, detected the → GW170817 event.
Named after the → Virgo cluster of galaxies whose stellar explosions it aims to detect; → interferometer.