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The Gravitational Universe

Tuesday 31st December 2013

Gravitational Waves are emitted during the merger of two neuron stars merging into a black hole. Credit: AEI/ZIB

The Gravitational Universe will be one of the two science themes to be explored by ESA's next two Large (L-class) missions, decided by ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC).

The suggested mission to probe the Gravitational Universe is the evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA). It will study the universe in a unique way – completely differently than any other space observatory – by detecting gravitational waves. Observations of gravitational waves in space will answer key scientific questions about the astrophysics of the cosmic dawn and the physics and the evolution of the universe. According to ESA's decision, eLISA will be the third L-class mission, following JUICE and Athena+.

"We are very pleased with this decision. It will provide revolutionary research opportunities in astrophysics and fundamental physics," says Karsten Danzmann, designated spokesperson of eLISA, director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) and professor at the Leibniz Universität in Hannover, Germany. "We will immediately begin to optimize technologies already being developed for eLISA. These key technologies for eLISA will get their first test in space with the launch of ESA's LISA Pathfinder (LPF) mission in 2015," Danzmann continues.

Cardiff University's gravitational wave physics group, led by Professor Sathyaprakash, will continue its work as part of the international team for eLisa.

For more information on eLisa, visit the eLisa science website.