Our understanding of the cosmos has improved dramatically in recent years, thanks to parallel progress in theory, computation and observation. For example, we’ve gone from arguing about whether the age of our universe is 10 or 20 billion years to whether it’s 13.7 or 13.8. Yet further improved measurements are on their way, and there’s no shortage of pressing questions to tackle.

What’s the nature of the dark matter and dark energy that constitute 96% of the cosmic density?

What can we say about the ultimate origins and fate of our universe?

Our observable universe is the spherical region from which light has had time to reach us during the 14 billion years since our big bang. The WMAP satellite has imaged hot plasma near the edge of this region.

Multiple efforts to tackle such questions are underway at the MKI, led by Edmund Bertschinger, Jacqueline Hewitt and Max Tegmark, developing experimental, analytical, computational, and statistical tools to improve our understanding of gravitation and cosmology. Our main research topics include:

  • Dark matter: experimental direct detection, improving our understanding of how it clusters to form galaxies and larger structures, investigating its detectability in the cosmos and laboratory
  • Dark energy: phenomenology of theories of dark energy and their cosmological tests
  • Cosmic origins: exploring and testing models of cosmological inflation
  • Cosmic first-light: probing the epoch of cosmic dawn using novel radio telescopes
  • Testing general relativity, especially in cosmology
  • Developing consistent modified gravity theories and developing observational tests of them
  • Other topics in theoretical physics and cosmology, e.g. cosmological perturbation theory, scalar fields and neutrinos in cosmology, parallel computation