This series consists of talks in the areas of Cosmology, Gravitation and Particle Physics.
Measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) have proven to be a powerful probe of the physics of our universe. CMB observations are helping to address fundamental questions, such as the nature of dark energy and dark matter, and are being used to probe the physics of inflation at energies a trillion times higher than the Large Hadron Collider. Recent measurements led to several exciting first detections, including CMB lensing, massive galaxy clusters, the large-scale velocity field, and the “B-mode” component of the polarization field.
Inflation is proposed as a means of explaining why the Universe is currently so homogeneous on larger scales, solving both the horizon and flatness problems in early universe cosmology. However, if inflation itself requires homogeneous conditions to get started, then inflation is not a solution to the horizon problem. Most work up until now has focussed on a dynamical systems approach to classifying the stability of inflationary models, but recently Numerical Relativity (NR) has been used to simulate the actual evolution of the inflaton field, leading to new insights.
I will discuss the potential for the LISA space-based interferometer to detect the stochastic Gravitational Wave (GW) background produced from different mechanisms during inflation. In particular, I will present the GW contributions from particle production during inflation, inflationary spectator fields with varying speed of sound, effective field theories of inflation with specific patterns of symmetry breaking and models leading to the formation of primordial black holes.
I discuss the phenomenology of models of inflation with periodic particle production. Particle production occurs as the mass of heavy particles goes through non-adiabatic modulations as the inflaton field rolls. I show that this process can lead to significant emission of scalar and gravitational waves during inflation, with distinct observational signatures.
We argue that moduli stabilization severely constrains the evolution following transitions between weakly coupled de Sitter vacua and can induce a strong selection bias towards inflationary cosmologies. We carefully discuss gravitational vacuum decays and resolve a naive sign ambiguity in the exponential of the decay rate. Equipped with this clear understanding of vacuum decay we then turn towards constraints on the cosmological evolution after transitions in weakly coupled flux compactifications.
If heavy fields are present during inflation, they can leave an imprint in late-time cosmological observables. The main signature of these fields is a small amount of distinctly shaped non-Gaussianity, which if detected, would provide a wealth of information about the particle spectrum of the inflationary Universe. Here we investigate to what extent these signatures can be detected or constrained using futuristic 21-cm surveys. This part of my talk is based on 1610.06559.
The precision of current and future cosmological observations at Megaparsec scales demands a detailed understanding of the effects of baryonic processes on the clustering of matter at these scales. In this talk, I will explore how to use measurements of cosmic shear to constrain the impact of these processes on the total matter power spectrum.
It has long been wondered to what extent the observable properties of an inhomogeneous universe will be measurably different from a corresponding FLRW model. Here, we use tools from numerical relativity to study the properties of photons traversing an inhomogeneous universe. We evolve the full, unconstrained Einstein field equations for a spacetime containing dust, with a spectrum of long-wavelength density perturbations similar to the observed one.
In this seminar, I will present two promising ways in which the cosmic microwave background (CMB) sheds light on critical uncertain physics and systematics of the large-scale structure.
Shear calibration with CMB lensing (arXiv:1607.01761):
Despite tremendous recent progress, gaps remain in our knowledge of our cosmic history. For example, we have yet to make observations of Cosmic Dawn or the subsequent Epoch of Reionization. Together, these represent the important period when the first stars and galaxies were formed, dramatically altering their surroundings in the process. Radio telescopes targeting the 21cm line will open up these crucial epochs to direct observations in the next few years, filling in a missing chapter in our cosmic story.