Cosmologists at Perimeter Institute seek to help pin down the constituents and history of our universe, and the rules governing its origin and evolution. Many of the most interesting clues about physics beyond the standard model (e.g., dark matter, dark energy, the matter/anti-matter asymmetry, and the spectrum of primordial density perturbations], come from cosmological observations, and cosmological observations are often the best way to test or constrain a proposed modification of the laws of nature, since such observations can probe length scales, time scales, and energy scales that are beyond the reach of terrestrial laboratories.
I will present a galaxy formation model within the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (LCDM) framework that is calibrated on the results of galaxy formation simulations and some of the empirical properties of nearby dwarf galaxies. I will then use the model to interpret a number of ostensible challenges to the LCDM framework, such as the "too-big-too-fail problem", "central density problem" and the "planes of satellites" problem and will argue that none of these pose a serious challenge to LCDM, as the corresponding observations can be largely understood within the current galaxy formation modeling. I will also show that the same galaxy formation model can explain the abundance of UV-bright galaxies at z>5 measured by the Hubble Space Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope recently, if the expected increase of burstiness of star formation in galaxies towards early epochs is taken into account.
While General Relativity has withstood tests on solar system scales, progress in observational cosmology now enables tests on the largest scales. I will present results from our tests of gravity using Dark Energy Survey Year 3 weak lensing and clustering data in addition to a variety of complementary data. One outcome of this analysis was the necessity to further explore lensing consistency so I will present preliminary results of such tests using the latest Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) lensing data. These analyses are setting the scene for future tests of fundamental physics with CMB and galaxy surveys: I will show expected results and challenges from the Rubin Observatory. I will finally argue for the use of machine learning for theory exploration, to better organize our efforts within the future experimental landscape. As PI is a leading center in outreach, I will end my talk by sharing my experience with science content creation on various social media platforms.
I will introduce the stability problem for spacetimes from the initial value formulation perspective in general relativity. After introducing some notions on how to quantitatively characterize (in)stability, I will present a result for a class of spacetimes called gravitational solitons which exhibit slower decay compared to black holes. This is joint work with Hari Kunduri (McMaster University).
The universe has turned out to be simpler than expected on both very small and very large scales. We propose a minimal, highly predictive framework connecting particle physics to cosmology. Instead of introducing an ``attractor” phase such as inflation we extrapolate the observed universe all the way back to the initial singularity where we impose a CPT symmetric boundary condition via a generalization of the method of images. If the hot plasma in the early universe is perfectly conformal, so is the singularity. The cosmos may then be analytically extended to a ``mirror image” universe prior to the bang. Using this new boundary condition we calculate the gravitational entropy for cosmologies with radiation, matter, Lambda and space curvature, finding it favours spatially flat, homogeneous and isotropic universes with a small positive cosmological constant in accord with observation. To maintain conformal symmetry, we include unusual Dim-0 (dimension zero) fields. They improve the SM’s coupling to gravity, cancelling the vacuum energy and two local “Weyl” anomalies, without introducing additional propagating modes. They also cancel pathologies introduced into the graviton propagator by loops of SM particles. Cancellation requires precisely 3 generations of SM fermions, each with a RH neutrino. It also requires a composite Higgs, presumably built with the Dim-0 fields. One of the RH neutrinos, if stable, is a viable candidate for the dark matter which will be tested soon. The Dim-0 fields source scale-invariant curvature perturbations in the early universe. Subject to two simple but crucial theoretical assumptions, the amplitude and spectral tilt match the observations with remarkable accuracy. (See arXiv:2302.00344 and references therein).