Cosmology After Planck (speaker: David Spergel, Princeton)

Tuesday April 14, 2015 4:00 pm
Marlar Lounge (37-252)

The Planck Telescope has made an accurate full-sky measurement of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) temperature, the leftover heat from
the Big Bang. These measurements probe both the physics of the very early universe and the basic properties of the universe today. The Planck measurements confirm the earlier results from the WMAP telescope and rigorously test our standard cosmological model and provide an accurate determination of basic cosmological parameters (the shape of the universe, its age, and its composition). When combined with other astronomical measurements, the measurements constrain the properties of the dark energy and the nature of dark matter. The observations also directly probe the physics of first moments of the Big Bang: the current data are consistent with the idea that the early universe underwent a period of rapid expansion called inflation. I will review the Planck data and preview the upcoming data from ground-based polarization experiments. I will also look forward to future measurements from LSST and WFIRST, the major ground and space-based surveys of the coming decade.

Many key cosmological questions remain unanswered: What happened during the first moments of the big bang? What is the dark energy? What are the properties of the dark matter?  The upcoming  combination of large-scale structure, supernova and CMB measurements may provide new insights into these key cosmological questions.