This series consists of talks in the areas of Cosmology, Gravitation and Particle Physics.
Rather than writing down specific functional forms, one can generate inflation models via stochastic processes in order to explore generic properties of inflation models. I describe our explorations of the phenomenology of randomly-generated multi-field inflation models, both for canonical fields and for a braneworld-motivated scenario. Implications of some recent observational results, including BICEP2, will be discussed.
This talk will describe the Quasi-Steady State Cosmology proposed in 1993 by Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge and Jayant Narlikar. Starting with the motivation for this exercise, a formal field theoretic framework inspired by Mach’s principle is shown to lead to this model. The model is a generalization of the classical steady state model in the sense that it is driven by a scalar field which causes creation in explosive form. Such ‘minicreation events’ lead to a universe with a long term de Sitter expansion superposed with oscillations of shorter time scales.
Non-linear realizations of spacetime symmetries can be obtained by a generalization of the coset construction valid for internal ones. The physical equivalence of different representations for spacetime symmetries is not obvious, since their relation involves not only a redefinition of the fields but also a field-dependent change of coordinates. A simple and relevant spacetime symmetry is obtained by the contraction of the 4D conformal group that leads to the Galileon group.
The most fundamental assumption of the standard cosmological model (LambdaCDM) is that the Universe is homogeneous on large scales. This is not true on small scales, and some studies suggest that galaxies follow a fractal distribution up to very large scales (~200 h^{-1} Mpc or more), whereas ΛCDM predicts homogeneity at ~100 h^{-1} Mpc. We have tested this using the WiggleZ Dark Energy Survey, a UV-selected spectroscopic survey of ~200,000 luminous blue galaxies up to z=1, with the Anglo-Australian Telescope.
Groups and clusters of galaxies are the most massive gravitationally bound objects in the Universe. They are also the most recent cosmic objects to form. In the currently accepted models of cosmic structure formation, the number density distribution of the most massive of these systems, and how this has been changing with time, depend sensitively to the parameters describing the large-scale geometry and the expansion history of the universe. However, to exploit galaxy clusters as cosmological probes, we must be able to relate their observable properties to their total mass.
Recent observations from three different astronomical surveys have revealed evidence for asymmetries about the Galactic midplane in the kinematics of solar neighborhood stars. These asymmetries appear, in part, as compression-rarefaction modes in the bulk motions of stars perpendicular to the midplane. I will discuss the hypothesis that these motions were caused by the recent passage of a satellite galaxy or dark matter subhalo through the Galactic disk.
The assumption of spatial homogeneity lies at the heart of the concordance cosmological model. But as I will discuss, truly solid empirical evidence for global (statistical) homogeneity is lacking, and tricky theoretical issues abound. I review a few recent advances in understanding the role inhomogeneity plays in cosmology, including some unexpected effects on light propagation, the death (and rebirth) of backreaction, and impending observational annoyances related to the lumpy local Universe.
One new frontier in cosmology is the frequency spectrum of the CMB. Future instruments may be precise enough to measure deviations from the nearly-perfect blackbody, measuring a chemical potential and thus probing energy injection at extremely high redshift. I will discuss ($\mu$ and $y$-type) CMB spectral distortions from the dissipation of entropy (isocurvature)-sourced acoustic modes. I will then discuss how a high-energy phase transition could also source such distortions.
The Planck satellite measurement of the cosmic microwave background has provided spectacular confirmation of the predictions of inflationary cosmology, putting inflation on a firm footing as the leading theory of the very early universe. I will discuss the implications of Planck for the simplest canonical single-field inflation models, which are favored by the data. Then I will discuss the most general question: How strong is the case that inflation is the "right" theory of the early universe?
The SDSS-III Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, now nearly complete, is measuring the three-dimensional cosmic structure with 1.35 million new redshifts. Galaxy clustering measurements provide constraints on the cosmic expansion history through the baryon acoustic oscillation feature and the Alcock-Paczynski effect. In addition, the imprint of galaxy peculiar velocities on the observed galaxy clustering, "redshift-space distortions", provides a measurement of the growth rate of matter perturbations.