Lecture: Cosmology after Planck

Cosmology after Planck
Prof. David Spergel
Princeton University
2013-06-21 16:00

Planck has just reported its full-sky measurement of the microwave background temperature and polarization fluctuations. These measurements probe both the physics of the very early universe and the basic properties of the universe today.  These measurements confirm the basic picture developed by WMAP and ground based satelites measurements and provide an accurate and consistent determination of basic comological parameters (the curvature of the universe, its matter density and composition).  When combined with other astronomical measurements, the measurements contrain the properties of the dark energy and the mass of the neutrino. The observations also directly probe the physics of inflation: the current data imply that the primordial fluctuations were primarily adiabatic and nearly scale invariant.         

Many key cosmological questions remain unanswered: what happened during the first moments of the big bang? what is the dark energy? what were the properties of the first stars?  I will discuss the role of on going and future CMB observations in addressing these key cosmological questions and describe how the combination of large-scale structure, supernova and CMB data can be used to address these questions.

Introduction to the speaker:
Prof. David N. Spergel (born March 25, 1961), is a cosmologist and astrophysicist of Princeton University (currently chair of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences). He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Astronomy from Princeton University in 1982, and PhD degree in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1985. His research interests range from the search for planets around nearby stars to the shape of the universe. Over the last few years, the WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) Satellite has been the main focus of his research. His WMAP papers are currently the #1 and #2 most cited new papers in all of physics and space science.
He shared the 2010 Shaw Prize in astronomy with Charles L. Bennett and Lyman A. Page, Jr. for their work on WMAP. He is also interested in understanding how galaxies form and evolve. Spergel's thesis work was on dark matter and he has recently returned to this field, exploring the possibility that the dark matter has strong self-interactions. Dr. Spergel is among a group of scientists and engineers at Princeton University who are developing new technologies attempting to enable the direct imaging of earth-like planets around nearby stars.