This series consists of talks in the areas of Cosmology, Gravitation and Particle Physics.
The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10-meter submm-wave telescope optimized for large-field imaging of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) at arcminute resolution. The first key project of the SPT is a large area survey to find galaxy clusters using the Sunyaev-Zel\'dovich effect. Combined with optically determined redshifts, the survey yields will be used to place constraints on the nature of dark energy, via its effect on the growth of clusters and the geometry of the universe. Working toward this goal, the SPT has surveyed two 100 square degree fields at high sensitivity.
I will discuss fine tuning in modified gravity models that can account for today’s dark energy. I will introduce some models where the underlying cosmological constant may be Planck scale but starts as a redundant coupling which can be eliminated by a field redefinition. The observed vacuum energy arises when the redundancy is explicitly broken. I’ll give a recipe for constructing models that realize this mechanism and satisfy all solar system constraints on gravity, including one based on Gauss-Bonnet gravity which provides a technically natural explanation for dark energy.
The QUaD experiment has recently released CMB polarization results at el>200 which are the most sensitive to date. The predicted series of peaks in the EE spectrum are shown to be present for the first time while BB remains undetectable. After briefly reviewing the motivation for polarization measurements I will move on to the experiment, observations, analysis technique and the final results. Finally I will mention on-going efforts to detect gravitational wave B modes.
The so-called cosmological backreaction arises when one directly averages the Einstein equations to recover cosmology. While usually applied to avoid employing dark energy models, strictly speaking any cosmological model should be built from such an averaging procedure rather than an assumed background. We apply the Buchert formalism to Einstein-de Sitter, Lambda CDM and quintessence cosmologies, and as a first approach to the full problem, evaluate numerically the discrepancies arising from linear perturbation theory between the averaged behaviour and the assumed behaviour.
At the end of inflation, dynamical instability can rapidly deposit the energy of homogeneous cold inflation into excitations of other fields. This process (known as preheating) essentially starts the hot big bang as we know it. I will present simulations of several preheating models using a new numerical solver DEFROST I developed. The results trace the evolution of the fields, which quickly become very inhomogeneous as the instability kicks in. Surprisingly, there appears to be a certain universality across preheating models with different decay channels.
Observations of the Milky Way by the SPI/INTEGRAL satellite have confirmed the presence of a strong 511 KeV gamma-ray line emission from the bulge, which require an intense source of positrons in the galactic center. These observations are hard to account for by conventional astrophysical scenarios, whereas other proposals, such as light DM, face stringent constraints from the diffuse gamma-ray background. I will describe how light superconducting strings could be the source of the observed 511 KeV emission.
In this talk I will analyse the stochastic background of gravitational waves coming from a first order phase transition in the early universe. The signal is potentially detectable by the space interferometer LISA. I will present a detailed analytical model of the gravitational wave production by the collision of broken phase bubbles, together with analytical results for the gravitational wave power spectrum. Gravitational wave production by turbulence and magnetic fields will also be briefly discussed.
Recent developments in the field of Numerical Relativity have not only provided key insights of binary black hole systems but also began influencing its future role. Undoubtedly one of the most important future drivers in the near future of the field will be its role as another element within the study of spectacular astrophysical phenomena involving strongly gravitation scenarios. Connecting (yet to be observed) gravitational waves with observations within the electromagnetic spectra will be one ultimate goal of this enterprise.