This series consists of talks in the areas of Cosmology, Gravitation and Particle Physics.
We are currently in an era of precision cosmology, but is it an era of accurate cosmology? By measuring cosmological parameters with many independent probes we can convince ourselves that our measurements of the parameters are indeed correct. Thanks to recent progress, strong gravitational lensing is now a powerful probe of cosmology. In this talk I'll report on a measurement of H0 at 5% precision using two strongly lensed quasars and a 20% measurement on the equation of state of dark energy using a double source plane lens.
Spectral distortions of the CMB provide a powerful new probe of early Universe processes. Even if so far no average spectral distortion has been seen, LCDM does predict several signals that are within reach of current technology. In this talk, I will give a broad brush overview of our most recent understanding of the formation and evolution of distortions in the early Universe, highlighting guaranteed LCDM signals and what we hope to learn from them about the Universe we live in.
Gravitational lensing by matter clumps can magnify various transient bursts in the sky, making them more detectable from the high redshift Universe. For one example, chirping gravitational waves from stellar-mass black hole binary mergers, as first detected by LIGO recently, can appear louder due to intervening galaxies.
In the last few years, we have made remarkable progress in understanding the properties of our observable Universe which appears to have evolved from a hot Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. The fine-tuning of initial conditions required to reproduce our present day Universe suggests that our Universe may merely be a region within an eternally inflating super-region. Many other regions could exist beyond our observable Universe with each such region governed by a different set of physical parameters than the ones we have measured for our Universe.
Planck's full-mission data, released in 2015, provides a high-resolution whole-sky polarization and temperature maps of the CMB and astrophysical components. I will talk about implications of Planck 2015 results for inflation, why cosmic dust is important, and what we are currently doing to study it. I will also highlight some tests of the statistical isotropy and Gaussianity of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) anisotropies we have done with observations made by the Planck satellite.
I will discuss the cosmology of galileon models with a Minkowski limit and discuss whether they can account for the currently observed cosmological model. The full galileon model predicts the speed of gravitational waves to be different from that of photons. I will discuss this and compare with observations. I will then discuss a subdominant galileon model which is compatible. Finally I will discuss the shape dependence of screening in galileon models, showing that the fifth force is unscreened for planar objects.
I will discuss phenomena associated with particle production and field excitation during inflation. In the first part of the talk I will present several
signatures that can originate from the coupling of an axion inflaton to gauge fields. In the second part I will test the robustness of the standard
implications associated with the detection of a gravity wave (GW) signal at CMB scales, by discussing what conditions can allow a visible
Alternative theories of gravity are popular alternatives to the LCDM model because they can self-accelerate without a cosmological constant. On smaller scales, consistency with solar system tests of gravity is achieved by utilising screening mechanisms, which act to hide fifth-forces locally. This makes them difficult to distinguish from general relativity. In this talk I will describe recent work using astrophysical objects---stars, galaxies, and clusters---as new and novel probes of alternative gravity theories.