Astrophysics Colloquium — Our Screwy Universe: Probing Fundamental Physics From The World's Extremes With CMB Polarization

Tuesday March 5, 2013 4:00 pm

Abstract: The Background Imager of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization (BICEP) experiment was the first cosmic microwave background (CMB) polarimeter designed to measure the unique “B-mode” polarization pattern hypothesized to originate during the Inflationary cosmological epoch. BICEP observed 3% of the sky from our observatory at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station in Antarctica and produced the first meaningful limits on the energy scale of Inflation to come from CMB polarization. Soon after BICEP’s initial results were released, a first-detection of parity-violating “cosmic birefringence” effects was claimed using publicly available BICEP data (Xia, Li & Zhang, 2009). I will discuss the challenges of polarimetry at the few parts per billion level and explain why systematic effects are particularly pernicious for probes of cosmic parity violation. I will conclude by discussing how BICEP, its successor BICEP2, and the POLARBEAR/Simons Array experiments will constrain Inflationary cosmology, Dark Matter and Dark Energy and cosmic parity violation.

Event Contact

Debbie Meinbresse