Cosmology & Gravitation

This series consists of talks in the areas of Cosmology, Gravitation and Particle Physics.

Seminar Series Events/Videos

Currently there are no upcoming talks in this series.

 

Friday Oct 24, 2008
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One of the most challenging problems in theoretical physics today is the so called cosmological constant problem. While current observational constraints are consistent with the predictions of GR with a tiny cosmological constant, often referred to as the dark energy, it remains possible that it\'s the deviation of the law of gravity at large distance from Einstein\'s theory that resolves the puzzle.

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Tuesday Oct 21, 2008
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In this talk I will discuss gravitational wave production by early universe sources. I will focus on the gravitational waves produced by a network of cosmic strings and the bounds that can be placed on cosmic string model parameters using current and future experiments. I will also talk about recent work on gravitational waves produced by sources in the early universe when the expansion of the universe cannot be neglected. As an example of such a process I will consider the preheating epoch that may follow inflation.

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Friday Oct 17, 2008
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I\'ll discuss three promising upcoming experimental measurements that will probe the expansion history of the universe: (1) growth bases tests of Dark Energy with the Sunyaev-Zeldovich Effect, including new results from the South Pole Telescope and APEX-SZ, (2) inflationary constraints that will be provided by the next generation of CMB-polarization experiments, with prospects from EBEX, and (3) standard ruler measurements from Baryon Acoustic oscillations, including an introduction to an ambitious new Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping initiative called CHIME.

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Tuesday Oct 14, 2008
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WMAP measurements of CMB temperature anisotropies reveal a power asymmetry: the average amplitude of temperature fluctuations in one hemisphere is larger than the average amplitude in the opposite hemisphere at the 99% confidence level. This power asymmetry may be generated during inflation by a large-amplitude superhorizon perturbation that causes the mean energy density to vary across the observable Universe.

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Tuesday Oct 07, 2008
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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.

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Tuesday Sep 30, 2008
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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.

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Tuesday Sep 23, 2008
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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.

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Tuesday Sep 09, 2008
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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.

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Tuesday Jul 29, 2008
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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.

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