NSF’s MPS Advisory Subcommittee recommends Cosmic Explorer be selected as the Next-Generation US-based Gravitational Wave Observatory

By Stefan Ballmer April 2, 2024

National Science Foundation’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences Next-Generation Gravitational Wave Observatory Subcommittee’s report recommends that the Cosmic Explorer Observatory concept will be adopted by the NSF.[1]

Vicky Kalogera, Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor at Northwestern University and chair of the subcommittee, presented the findings at a March 26 meeting of the National Science Foundation’s MPS Advisory Committee. She highlighted the broad scientific discovery potential for next-generation gravitational-wave facilities and emphasized that the Cosmic Explorer 40km detector design has extraordinary potential for new discoveries while at the same time carrying the lowest technical risk. A variety of networks were recommended which include the operation of two Cosmic Explorer observatories in the US, LIGO India, and Europe’s Einstein Telescope.  She emphasized the importance of Cosmic Explorer as a long-term investment in US science infrastructure.

[1] The subcommittee’s web page, charge, call for white papers, and final report can be found here: https://www.nsf.gov/mps/phy/nggw.jsp

Syracuse University Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy and Astrophysics Opening Ceremony October 13, 2023

Members of the campus community join presenters from MIT, Harvard and Princeton for the Syracuse University Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy and Astrophysics Opening Ceremony. From left to right: Edo Berger (Prof. of Astronomy, Harvard), Jennifer Ross (Department Chair Physics, SU), Duncan Brown (Vice President for Research, SU), Stefan Ballmer (Director CGWAA, SU), Nergis Mavalvala (Dean, School of Science, MIT), Frans Pretorius (Prof. of Physics, Princeton).

On October 13, 2023, The Syracuse University Physics Department along with the College of Arts and Sciences hosted the opening celebration of the Gravitational Wave Astronomy and Astrophysics Center.

Read the College of Arts and Sciences article here!

Read the Syracuse University STEM article here!


Five NSF Grants Fund Syracuse University Researchers’ Work with Cosmic Explorer

Researchers from the University’s new Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy and Astrophysics are at the intellectual center of the next-generation observatory.

Read the Article by Dan Bernardi


The National Science Foundation funds coordinated proposals to start the Cosmic Explorer Design Phase

By Stefan Ballmer

The National Science Foundation awarded funding to a set of coordinated proposals submitted by members of the Cosmic Explorer Project — a significant level of support totaling approximately $9M USD over the coming three years. The twelve institutions that will be supported by these awards have a diverse and geographically broad span; they are Bard College, California State University Fullerton, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Penn State University, University of California Riverside, Syracuse University, the University of Arizona, the University of Florida, the University of Minnesota, the University of Oregon, and the University of Washington Bothell. 

The four funded awards are 

and two proposals were recommended for funding: 

  • “Local Gravity Disturbances and Next-Generation Gravitational-Wave Astrophysics.”
  • “Cosmic Explorer: Research and Conceptual Designs for Scattered-Light Mitigation.” 

In addition to these ‘Project’ oriented awards, the NSF and other funding agencies are supporting a broad range of activities supporting the Cosmic Explorer concept and the observational science that can be anticipated. These include: 

  • “Center for Coatings Research” (Stanford University, Syracuse University, University of Florida, American University, Embry-Riddle, University of California, Berkeley, Colorado State University, CSULA, and Hobart and William Smith.) NSF Awards 230928923092902309291230929223092932309294230929523092962309297.
  • “Neutron stars and gravitational waves from LIGO to Cosmic Explorer” (Texas Tech University). NSF Award 2309305.
  •  “Cosmic Collisions, Relativistic Blasts, and their Remnants in the Era of Multi-Messenger Astronomy”  (Texas Tech University). NSF Award 2307358.

US collaborators include members of the Cosmic Explorer Project and Consortium and international collaborators in the UK, Germany, Australia, and Canada. These efforts will make major steps toward the realization of Cosmic Explorer and contribute to the Cosmic Explorer Conceptual Design. As part of the UK contribution, UKRI have announced the award of funding (£8M over 4 financial years from  FY2023/24) from its infrastructure Fund for a scoping project (“Next-gen GW: the next generation gravitational wave infrastructure”) to enable conceptual design of instrumental and computational technologies for next-generation GW infrastructures, supporting the work of a consortium of 7 UK Universities.


Cosmic Explorer Project Submits a White Paper in Response to NSF’s Next Generation Gravitational-Wave Committee’s Call

The National Science Foundation (NSF) appointed a sub-committee next-generation Gravitational Wave committee (ngGW) of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee (MPSAC) to assess and recommend configurations for a U.S. GW detection network that can operate at a sensitivity approximately an order of magnitude greater than that of LIGO A+ by the middle of the next decade. The sub-committee has invited White Papers from the community addressing the science motivation and key science objectives, technical description of the proposed concept(s) and how different aspects are associated with key science, current and new technologies needed, risks, timelines, and approximate cost assessment, any synergies or dependencies on other multi-messenger facilities (existing or future). The CE project conducted a trade study to assess the relative performances of plausible detector networks operating in the 2030s and summarized the findings in the White Paper submitted in response to that call. The white paper is supported by a longer technical report that details the trade study carried out to assess the performance of a network consisting of two Cosmic Explorer observatories (one 40 km arm and one 20 km arm) operating in conjunction with upgraded existing facilities or new observatories and it serves as the technical basis for what is reported in the project’s submission.

A brief summary of the White Paper is as follows: Major discoveries in astronomy are driven by three related improvements: better sensitivity, higher precision, and opening new observational windows. Cosmic Explorer promises all three and will deliver an order-of-magnitude greater sensitivity than LIGO. Cosmic Explorer will push the gravitational-wave frontier to almost the edge of the observable universe using technologies that have been proven by LIGO during its development. Cosmic Explorer will make discoveries that cannot yet be anticipated, especially since gravitational waves are both synergistic with electromagnetic observations and can at the same time reach into regions of the universe that electromagnetic observations cannot explore. With Cosmic Explorer, scientists can use the universe as a laboratory to test the laws of physics and study the nature of matter. With its extraordinary discovery potential, Cosmic Explorer will deliver revolutionary observations across astronomy, physics, and cosmology including: Black Holes and Neutron Stars Throughout Cosmic Time, Multi-Messenger Astrophysics and Dynamics of Dense Matter, New Probes of Extreme Astrophysics, Fundamental Physics and Precision Cosmology, Dark Matter and the Early Universe. Cosmic Explorer allows the United States to continue its leading role in gravitational-wave science and the international network of next-generation observatories.

by B.S. Sathyaprakash on August 4, 2023

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