Funding National Science Agenda

Black Holes Consortium receives funding

The Dutch Black Holes Consortium, of which Utrecht University is in the lead, receives 4.9 million euros from the NWO within the framework of the National Science Agenda. NWO announced this on 25 November. "With this proposal, we will create a new interdisciplinary consortium that will further unravel the mysteries of black holes and the universe. Astronomers and physicists are going to join forces to make new discoveries, geologists are going to do groundwork for the upcoming construction of the Einstein Telescope, and together with the applied universities we will develop new teaching material to interest young people in science," says principal applicant Stefan Vandoren of Utrecht University.

The Dutch Black Hole Consortium will receive funding from the so-called National Science Agenda: Research on Routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC). NWA-ORC funding rewards a total of 21 research consortia with  93 million euro. A special feature of this funding is that it is used for collaborations between knowledge institutions and social partners, allowing them to investigate urgent issues together.

With this proposal, we will create a new interdisciplinary consortium that will further unravel the mysteries of black holes and the universe

Consortium coördinator Stefan Vandoren

One of the main goals of the Dutch Black Holes Consortium is to introduce people of all ages and backgrounds, and children in particular, to science through the use of leading research on black holes. To this end, the consortium combines researchers from disciplines ranging from theoretical physics, astronomy, geology and meteorology, to technicians working on the next generation of gravity-wave detectors, with teacher training courses, museums and researchers in science communication and science history.

Top facilities

The consortium focuses on future research by helping to develop the latest and most sensitive measuring instruments such as the upcoming Einstein Telescope, which can measure distant black hole collisions on Earth. To this end, they are analysing the data from research carried out in South-Limburg by the Geological Survey of the Netherlands, part of TNO, in partnership with the Province of Limburg and other companies. In addition, the researchers use data from current top research facilities for research on black holes – such as the gravitational wave detectors Virgo and LIGO and the Event Horizon Telescope – to test current theoretical insights on black holes. The latest ideas on black holes and the nature of gravity are also being further developed. 

Educational programme

At the same time, the researchers will translate the latest findings into a multifaceted educational programme. New teaching materials will be developed and researched, primary and secondary school teachers will be trained, and there will be cooperation with various educational partners such as  natuurkunde.nl. The programme also includes public exhibitions in the Boerhaave Museum and Continium Discovery Centre. In addition, they are setting up a Citizen Science project in which the BlackGEM telescopes will be used to search for flashes of light associated with gravitational wave events.

For Utrecht University, this is a very nice project in which we combine research, technology and social interest.

Consortium coördinator Stefan Vandoren

"For Utrecht University, this is a very nice project in which we combine research, technology and social interest. I am really looking forward to leading this project!”, says Stefan Vandoren. The entire consortium consists of 31 applicants from universities and colleges, and 6 partners from industry, museums and government.

Read more

The Black Holes Consortium is one of five projects in Utrecht that receive funding from the so-called National Science Agenda: Research on Routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC). A total of some € 24.8 million is earmarked for the consortia led by Utrecht University. In addition, Utrecht University is involved as an academic partner in five other awarded consortia. Read the article here.