Cosmological Frontiers in Fundamental Physics 2016
The gravitational-wave observation GW150914 by Advanced LIGO provides the first opportunity to learn about theoretical physics mechanisms that may be present in the extreme gravity environment of coalescing binary black holes. The LIGO collaboration verified that this observation is consistent with Einstein's theory of General Relativity, constraining the presence of parametric anomalies in the signal. In this talk, I will discuss the plethora of additional inferences about gravity that can be drawn from the absence of such anomalies in the LIGO observation.
In this talk I will discuss some of the consequences for our understanding of strong-field gravity that can be gleaned from the recent detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO/Virgo collaboration.
The first detection of gravitational waves came with an unexpected windfall: a clear signal from the merger of two black holes into a final, spinning black hole. General Relativity predicts that following merger, the final black hole relaxes by emitting radiation in a characteristic spectrum of decaying modes. I will discuss these ``quasinormal modes'' and what can be learned from them, as well as the black hole ringdown observed in GW150914.
Dynamics in asymptotically anti-de Sitter spacetimes with reflecting boundary conditions are characterized by reduced dissipation as compared to asymptotically flat spacetimes. Such spacetimes, thus, represent opportunities to study nonlinear gravitational interactions that would otherwise be quickly damped away. I will discuss two background spacetimes---large AdS black branes in d=4, and pure AdS---where small perturbations display turbulent behavior and energy cascades driven by nonlinear interactions.
I will present a novel method for probing extremely weak large-scale magnetic fields in the intergalactic medium prior to the epoch of reionization. This method relies on the effect of spin alignment of hydrogen atoms in a cosmological setting, and on the effect of magnetic precession of the atoms on the statistics of the 21–cm brightness–temperature fluctuations. It is intrinsically sensitive to magnetic fields weaker than 10^{-19} Gauss in physical units, and thus has a potential to reach many orders of magnitude below the current constraints on primordial magnetic fields.
In homogeneous and isotropic Friedmann-Robertson-Walker cosmology, the topology of the universe determines its ultimate fate. If the Weak Energy Condition is satisfied, open and flat universes must expand forever, while closed cosmologies can recollapse to a Big Crunch. A similar statement holds for homogeneous but anisotropic (Bianchi) universes.
Why was the early universe classical? Along with the big bang singularity problem and the flatness, horizon and inhomogeneity puzzles, this is one of the big unexplained features of the hot big bang scenario. In this talk I will discuss how inflation and ekpyrosis, which have mainly been considered as models that can address some of the other puzzles, can both drive the early universe towards classicality. The remarkable aspect is that classicality is achieved via the intrinsic dynamics of inflation and ekpyrosis, without invoking decoherence.
The nature of dark matter remains one of the most nagging problems in cosmology. In this talk I will discuss several existing or potential probes of dark matter. I will start with a well known hot dark matter, massive neutrinos, and discuss their effect on large-scale structure in the non-linear regime. I will then talk about the effect of dark matter interactions with standard model particles on the spectrum of the CMB and on 21cm fluctuations. I will conclude by discussing whether LIGO could have detected primordial-black-hole dark matter.