Colloquia & Seminars
Wednesday colloquia & Friday seminarsLocally, the Center hosts a Wednesday colloquium speaker twice a month and a weekly series of more informal Friday lunch seminars, with both internal and external speakers. The Friday lunch seminar is organized by our Fellows. In addition, there are informal activities, including a weekly journal club (Thunch), periodic open group meetings and seminars.

Current and Future Colloquia & Seminars
DateColloquia & Seminars
March 31, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Alessandro Manzotti, University of Chicago
Delensing CMB B-modes: results from SPT
April 5, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Juan I. Collar, University of Chicago
News from PICO and COHERENT

Past Colloquia & Seminars
DateColloquia & Seminars
March 17, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Amy Lowitz, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Kinetic Inductance Detectors for 100 GHz CMB Polarimetry
March 10, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
David Moore, Yale University
Precision searches for new physics using optically levitated microspheres
March 3, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Andrew Wetzel, Carnegie Observatories, Caltech, UC Davis
Simulating Milky Way-like Galaxies with Realistic Satellite Populations
February 24, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Zhong-Zhi Xianyu, Harvard University
Standard Model Background of the Cosmological Collider
February 17, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Yi-Zen Chu, University of Minnesota Duluth
Cosmological Gravitational Waves: Causal Structure And Memories
February 10, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Elena Giusarma, Carnegie Mellon University
Testing neutrino properties with cosmological observables
February 3, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Douglas Applegate, The University of Chicago
Recent Advances & Current Challenges in Cosmology with Galaxy Clusters
January 27, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Evangelos Sfakianakis, UIUC
From axion inflation to leptons, baryons and cosmological magnetic fields
January 20, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Jayden Newstead, Arizona State University
Coherent neutrino-nucleus scattering: signal or background?
January 18, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Alex Drlica-Wagner, Fermilab
The Milky Way's Dark Companions
December 9, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Alvaro Chavarria, The University of Chicago
Solid-state imaging detectors for low-energy particle physics
December 7, 2016
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Wendy Freedman, KICP
Increasing Accuracy and Increasing Tension in H0
November 18, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Allison Merritt, Yale University
Substantial Variation in the Stellar Halos of Spiral Galaxies
November 11, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Yuan Li, University of Michigan
Cooling and AGN heating in cool-core galaxy clusters
November 9, 2016
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Surjeet Rajendran, UC Berkeley
New Directions in Searching for the Dark Universe
November 4, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Arran Phipps, Stanford University
Dark Matter Radio (Hidden Photons/Axions)
October 28, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Ian P Stern, University of Florida
ADMX (Axion Dark Matter eXperiment)
October 26, 2016
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Ben Farr, Enrico Fermi Institute and KICP
The First Four Months of Gravitational Wave Astronomy
October 21, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Jeffrey P Filippini, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
SPIDER: Exploring the dawn of time from above the clouds
October 14, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Yuhsin Tsai, University of Maryland
Partially Acoustic Dark Matter, Interacting Dark Radiation, and Large Scale Structure
October 12, 2016
3:00 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Marcelle Soares-Santos, Fermilab
The Dark Energy Survey and Gravitational Waves
October 7, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Chihway Chang, UofC
Preparing for the 21cm future - lessons from the Bleien Galactic Survey project
September 30, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Irshad Mohammed, Fermilab
Towards precision cosmology with large scale structures: the halo model and perturbative approaches
June 3, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Lauren M Pearce, University of Minnesota & Valpariaso
Higgs Relaxation Leptogenesis
May 20, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Blake D Sherwin, University of California, Berkeley
CMB Lensing Measurements, Present and Future
May 13, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Mariangela Lisanti, Princeton University
Resolving the Isotropic Gamma-Ray Background in the Search for Dark Matter
May 11, 2016
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Jordan Goodman, Maryland
Results from the first year of the HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory
May 6, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Francis-Yan Cyr-Racine, Harvard University
ETHOS – From Dark Particle Physics to the Matter Distribution of the Universe and Beyond
April 27, 2016
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Paolo Privitera, KICP/The University of Chicago
WIMPs taking selfies: the DAMIC experiment at SNOLAB
April 22, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Colin Hill, Columbia University
More Is Different: The Power of Multi-Probe CMB/LSS Cross-Correlations
April 15, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Dan Scolnic, The University of Chicago
A New Measurement of the Hubble Constant
April 13, 2016
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Jacqueline Hewitt, MIT
Probing the Cosmic Dawn and the Epoch of Reionization with the 21cm Hydrogen Line
April 8, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
John M Kearney, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
High-Scale Axions without Isocurvature from Inflationary Dynamics
April 1, 2016
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Miguel Zumalacarregui, Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics
Gravity at the horizon: from the cosmic dawn to ultra-large scales

News from PICO and COHERENT
April 5, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 401 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Juan I. Collar, University of Chicago

I will discuss the most recent results from PICO, a search for WIMP dark matter using bubble chambers, as well as future plans and some exciting lines of related research. I will then move on to cover COHERENT, an ongoing effort at ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source to detect and exploit coherent neutrino-nucleus scattering, soon to produce first results. The "glue" between these two subjects will be an elaboration on the overlap in techniques and methods used in modern neutrino and astroparticle physics. Abundant examples of this cross-talk will be provided.

Delensing CMB B-modes: results from SPT
March 31, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Alessandro Manzotti, University of Chicago

A promising signature of cosmic inflation is the presence of a "B-mode" component in the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) induced by primordial gravitational waves. For many inflation models, this B-mode signal is predicted to be at a level detectable in the near future. However current searches are limited by a "lensing B-mode" component that is produced by gravitationally lensing primordial E modes. In order to potentially detect the inflationary signal from B-mode measurements, lensing B modes must be characterized and removed in a process referred to as "delensing." This process has been studied extensively theoretically and with simulations, but has not been performed on polarization data. In this talk, I will present a demonstration of CMB B-mode delensing using polarization data from the South Pole Telescope polarimeter, SPTpol. Furthermore, using realistic simulations that include filtering and realistic CMB noise, we will show what is currently limiting the delensing efficiency and how it will rapidly improve in the near future.

Kinetic Inductance Detectors for 100 GHz CMB Polarimetry
March 17, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Amy Lowitz, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Kinetic inductance detectors (KIDs) are a promising detector technology across a broad range of wavelengths from mm-waves up to the soft X-ray regime. KIDs offer relatively simple, relatively inexpensive fabrication and straightforward passive frequency-domain multiplexing, which makes them an attractive solution for instruments requiring very high pixel-count arrays, including upcoming CMB polarimetry instruments. In this talk, I will describe a recent effort to produce a prototype array of direct-absorbing lumped element KIDs designed for CMB polarimetry at 100 GHz (3 mm) with the QUBIC telescope, including a discussion of design considerations, material development, and measured array performance.

Precision searches for new physics using optically levitated microspheres
March 10, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
David Moore, Yale University

I will describe the development of a new class of force sensors based on optically levitated dielectric microspheres in high vacuum, which allow the detection of sub-attonewton forces acting on micron sized objects. These force sensors can enable novel precision searches for new physics through the detection of weakly coupled or short range (<< 1 mm) interactions. Results from the initial application of these force sensors to search for millicharged dark matter particles bound in matter, and for interactions arising in certain screened scalar dark energy models, will be presented. Finally, I will discuss the expected sensitivity of these techniques to search for non-Newtonian or non-Coulombic forces at micron length scales, which can probe a variety of models of physics beyond the Standard Model.

Simulating Milky Way-like Galaxies with Realistic Satellite Populations
March 3, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Andrew Wetzel, Carnegie Observatories, Caltech, UC Davis

Low-mass 'dwarf' galaxies trace structure formation on the smallest cosmological scales and represent the most significant challenges to the cold dark matter (CDM) model. I will introduce the Latte simulations, a new suite of cosmological zoom-in baryonic simulations that model the formation of Milky Way-like galaxies at parsec-scale resolution, using the FIRE (Feedback in Realistic Environments) model for star formation and feedback. Using these simulations, I will discuss the roles of cosmic accretion and stellar feedback in driving the formation and structure of disk galaxies like the Milky Way. These simulations also self-consistently resolve the satellite dwarf galaxies that form around each host. I will discuss the impact of stellar feedback and MW-like environments on dark-matter subhalos and their connection to dwarf galaxies, demonstrating progress in addressing the 'missing satellites' and 'too-big-to-fail' problems of LCDM cosmology.

Standard Model Background of the Cosmological Collider
February 24, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Zhong-Zhi Xianyu, Harvard University

Primordial non-Gaussianities record interactions of fields in the early universe, which can be viewed as collision events in a "Cosmological Collider" with huge energy. In this talk, I shall introduce the workings of the Cosmological Collider as an explorer of new physics at very high scales, and describe the Standard Model spectrum during inflation and its "background signals" in Cosmological Collider. The nontrivial quantum correction during inflation plays a crucial role in this process, which I shall describe in detail.

Cosmological Gravitational Waves: Causal Structure And Memories
February 17, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Yi-Zen Chu, University of Minnesota Duluth

Despite being associated with particles of zero rest mass, electromagnetic and gravitational waves do not travel solely on the null cone in generic curved spacetimes. (That is, light does not always propagate on the light cone.) This inside-the-null-cone propagation of waves is known as the tail effect, and finding novel ways of understanding it in the strong field regime near a black hole may find applications for modeling the gravitational signals sought after by next-generation space-based detectors such as LISA.

Motivated by these considerations -- and as a first step -- I have been exploring techniques to understand the causal structure of scalar, electromagnetic and gravitational waves in cosmological spacetimes. I will describe my efforts to date, which include how the gravitational wave memory effects in 4D asymptotically flat spacetime generalize to the cosmological case.

Testing neutrino properties with cosmological observables
February 10, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Elena Giusarma, Carnegie Mellon University

One of the great puzzles related to the ΛCDM model is the nature of the dark matter (DM) component. In standard cosmology, hot, thermal relics are identified with the three light, active neutrinos which are sub-eV elementary particles which, apart from gravity, only interact via weak interactions. From neutrino oscillation experiments we know that neutrinos have masses but they are not sensitive to the absolute neutrino mass scale. Cosmology provides an independent tool to tackle the absolute scale of neutrino and to study its properties. In this talk I will illustrate the implications of neutrino properties on cosmological observables, in particular on the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation and on Large Scale Structure, and I will explore the current constraints on neutrino masses focusing also on the dependence of the cosmological limits on the total neutrino mass under the assumption of different mass spectra.

Recent Advances & Current Challenges in Cosmology with Galaxy Clusters
February 3, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Douglas Applegate, The University of Chicago

Observations of galaxy clusters not only test the basic parameters of the Lambda-CDM universe, but also test new physics such as non-zero neutrino masses, evolving dark energy, and departures from General Relativity on large scales. In this talk, I will first motivate why clusters are so useful for cosmology and why we are confident that these measurements are robust. In particular, I will describe how gravitational lensing measurements have been essential to cosmological constraints with the Weighing the Giants project, which reported a 12% constraint on Omega_m and a 15% constraint on a constant dark energy equation of state (when assuming flatness) from cluster data alone. While currently competitive, control of systematic uncertainties in weak lensing measurements need to improve by an order of magnitude to fully realize the potential of cluster cosmology with Stage-IV dark energy experiments that are turning on in the coming decade. I will detail some of the ongoing work within the South Pole Telescope and Dark Energy Science collaborations that is moving us towards the 1% systematics level, and highlight some of the interesting challenges yet to be solved.

From axion inflation to leptons, baryons and cosmological magnetic fields
January 27, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Evangelos Sfakianakis, UIUC

Axions are attractive candidates for theories of large-field inflation that are capable of generating observable primordial gravitational wave backgrounds. These fields enjoy shift-symmetries that protect their role as inflatons from being spoiled by coupling to unknown UV physics. This symmetry also restricts the couplings of these axion fields to other matter fields. At lowest order, the only allowed interactions are derivative couplings to gauge fields and fermions. These derivative couplings lead to the biased production of fermion and gauge-boson helicity states during and after inflation. I will describe some recent work on preheating in axion-inflation models that are derivatively coupled to Abelian gauge-fields and fermion axial-currents.
For an axion coupled to U(1) gauge fields it was found that preheating is efficient for a wide range of parameters. In certain cases the inflaton is seen to transfer all its energy to the gauge fields within a few oscillations. Identifying the gauge field as the hypercharge sector of the Standard Model can lead to the generation of cosmologically relevant magnetic fields.
Coupling the inflaton-axion to Majorana fermions leads to the biased production of fermion helicity-states which can have interesting phenomenological implications for leptogenesis.

Coherent neutrino-nucleus scattering: signal or background?
January 20, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Jayden Newstead, Arizona State University

The next generation of dark matter direct detection experiments will be sensitive to coherent nuclear scattering of solar neutrinos. This presents an irreducible background to dark matter searches, the so called 'neutrino floor'. However, this effect that has yet to be observed and so provides an opportunity for discovery. Dedicated experiments are racing to observe this effect and use it as a probe of new physics. In this talk I will discuss the neutrino floor and present some dark matter models where the prospects for discovery are not so grim. Then I will introduce the MINER experiment, a Texas A&M effort to observe coherent neutrino-nucleus scattering, and present its sensitivity to models of new physics.

The Milky Way's Dark Companions
January 18, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Alex Drlica-Wagner, Fermilab

PDF | Video
Our Milky Way galaxy is surrounded by a host of small, dark-matter-dominated satellite galaxies. Over the past two years, the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) has nearly doubled the number of known Milky Way satellite galaxies compared to the previous 80 years combined. While these discoveries continue to help resolve the "missing satellites problem", they have also raised new questions about the influence of the Magellanic Clouds on the Milky Way's satellite population. In the near future, the rapidly growing population of dwarf galaxies will be sensitive to deviations from ΛCDM at small scales, while definitively testing whether the annihilation of dark matter particles could be responsible for excess gamma-ray emission from the Galactic center. I will summarize recent results, outstanding questions, and upcoming advancements in the study of the Milky Way's dark companions.

Solid-state imaging detectors for low-energy particle physics
December 9, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Alvaro Chavarria, The University of Chicago

The low noise, high spatial resolution and reliable performance of charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) active pixel arrays have made them detectors of choice for digital imaging, from consumer electronics to state-of-the-art astronomical cameras. Although the slow time response of these devices has limited their application in high-energy particle physics, for the case of rare-event searches, where the particle interaction rate is extremely low, their properties can be fully exploited to build detectors that outperform in many aspects the traditional technologies of the field. I will present recent results from the DAMIC experiment, a low-mass dark matter search consisting of low-noise CCDs deployed in the SNOLAB laboratory. I will show how the exquisite spatial resolution of the detector allows for particle identification, and provides the unique capability to reject sequences of radioactive decay with utmost efficiency. These techniques can be extended to the field of neutrinoless double beta decay. I will present a recent proposal where we argue that a large array of amorphous Se-82 imagers based on CMOS technology could achieve the background requirements necessary to test if neutrinos are Majorana fermions even in the case of a normal hierarchy of neutrino masses.

Increasing Accuracy and Increasing Tension in H0
December 7, 2016 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Wendy Freedman, KICP

PDF | Video
The accuracy in direct measurement of distances to galaxies has continued to improve dramatically over the past decade. Local measurements of the Hubble constant based on Hubble Space Telescope observations of astrophysical standard candles -- Cepheids and Type Ia supernovae -- have converged on a value of about 73 km/sec/Mpc with an uncertainty of 2-3%. At the same time, estimates assuming a Lambda-CDM standard model and fitting highly precise measurements of cosmic microwave background fluctuations have yielded a value of Ho = 67 km/sec/Mpc. The two methods disagree at approximately the 3-sigma level. The reason for this discrepancy is not understood at present, and new data have only increased the tension. If real, the disagreement could be signaling missing physics in the standard model; for example, additional dark radiation. Major efforts are ongoing to improve further the accuracy in the local measurements, including developing other techniques to test the Cepheid distance scale. In the near future JWST and Gaia will provide a path to measuring Ho to 1%, comparable to the precision in CMB measurements.

Substantial Variation in the Stellar Halos of Spiral Galaxies
November 18, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Allison Merritt, Yale University

The Dragonfly Telephoto Array, comprised of 48 individual Canon telephoto lenses operating together as a single telescope, is an innovative approach to low surface brightness imaging. Sub-nanometer coatings on each optical element reduce scattered light from nearby bright stars and compact galaxy centers -- typically a key obstacle for integrated light observations -- by an order of magnitude, and Dragonfly's large field of view (2 x 2.6 degrees for a single frame) provides a large-scale view of galactic stellar halos and satellite systems. Using extremely deep (>30 mag/arcsec^2) optical imaging in g and r bands from the Dragonfly Nearby Galaxies Survey (DNGS), we have characterized the stellar halos of a sample of nearby luminous galaxies. I will present measurements of the stellar halo mass fractions of an initial sample of spiral galaxies from the survey, and discuss these in the context of the assembly histories of individual galaxies.

Cooling and AGN heating in cool-core galaxy clusters
November 11, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Yuan Li, University of Michigan

The feedback from active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is widely considered to be the major heating source in cool-core galaxy clusters, preventing a classical cooling flow where the intra-cluster medium (ICM) cools at hundreds to a thousand solar masses per year. We perform adaptive mesh simulations using Enzo including both momentum-driven AGN feedback and star formation to study the interplay between ICM cooling, AGN heating and star formation over 6.5 Gyr in an isolated cool-core cluster. We find that AGN jets globally heat up the ICM via weak shock waves and turbulence. Locally, cold clumps can cool out of the ICM due to the non-linear perturbation driven by the AGN jets. These cold clumps feed both star formation and the supermassive black hole (SMBH), triggering an AGN outburst which increases the entropy of the ICM and reduces its cooling rate. When star formation completely consumes the cold gas, leading to a brief shutoff of the AGN, the ICM quickly cools and develops multiphase gas again, followed by another cycle of star formation/AGN outburst. The simulation reproduces a wide range of observed properties and naturally explain the variety of star forming clouds observed in the center of cool-core clusters.

New Directions in Searching for the Dark Universe
November 9, 2016 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Surjeet Rajendran, UC Berkeley

PDF | Video
Observational bounds currently permit the existence of a large number of dark matter candidates, ranging from ultra-light axions with masses ~ 10^(-22) eV to MACHOs with mass as large as 10^(24) gm. It is important to develop experimental methods to constrain this vast range of parameters. In this talk, I will describe new experimental methods to probe a wide variety of dark matter candidates, ranging from ultra-light axions with masses ~ 10^(-22) eV to light WIMPs with mass in the keV - GeV range. A variety of precision measurement technologies such as optical/atomic interferometry and SQUID magnetometry can be applied to search for these particles. I will also discuss methods to search for the direction of the nuclear recoil induced by conventional WIMP scattering in detectors with solid state densities. These directional detectors may enable probes of conventional WIMP dark matter beyond the solar neutrino floor.

Dark Matter Radio (Hidden Photons/Axions)
November 4, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Arran Phipps, Stanford University

Determining the composition of dark matter is at the forefront of modern scientific research. There is compelling evidence for the existence of vast quantities of dark matter throughout the universe, however it has so-far eluded all direct detection efforts and its identity remains a mystery. While weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) are a favored candidate and have been the primary focus of direct detection for several decades, there has been recent interest in searching for ultra light field dark matter. The Dark Matter Radio is a tunable superconducting high-Q lumped-element resonator (read out with SQUIDs) being built to search for sub-eV hidden photon and axion dark matter. I will discuss the motivation, detection strategy, design, and current status of the DM Radio experiment.

ADMX (Axion Dark Matter eXperiment)
October 28, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Ian P Stern, University of Florida

Nearly all astrophysical and cosmological data point convincingly to a large component of cold dark matter (CDM) in the Universe. The axion particle, first theorized as a solution to the strong charge-parity problem of quantum chromodynamics, has been established as a prominent CDM candidate. Cosmic observation and particle physics experiments have bracketed the unknown mass of CDM axions between approximately a μeV and a meV.

The Axion Dark Matter eXperiment (ADMX) is a direct-detection CDM axion search which has set limits at the KSVZ coupling of the axion to two photons for axion masses between 1.9 and 3.7 μeV. ADMX has recently begun conducting searches with an upgraded detector, which will allow for detection at even the most pessimistic couplings within this mass range. In order to expand the mass reach of the detector, ADMX is conducting extensive research and development of microwave cavity technology. Status of the experiment, current research, and projected sensitivities will be presented.

The First Four Months of Gravitational Wave Astronomy
October 26, 2016 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Ben Farr, Enrico Fermi Institute and KICP

PDF | Video
On September 14, 2015 LIGO made the first direct detection of gravitational waves, marking the beginning of gravitational wave astronomy. The LIGO instruments continued to take data over the next four months, completing their first observing run on January 19, 2016 with 51.5 days of coincident data. I will present results from advanced LIGO's first four months of operation, and what they have taught us thus far.

SPIDER: Exploring the dawn of time from above the clouds
October 21, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Jeffrey P Filippini, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Inflation is thought to have seeded the cosmos with a hum of primordial gravitational waves - unique messengers from the universe's earliest moments. These ripples in spacetime should have left a unique "B-mode" signature on the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. SPIDER is a powerful balloon-borne instrument designed to tease out this polarization pattern in the presence of galactic foregrounds. I will give an update from SPIDER's successful long-duration balloon flight over the Antarctic ice in January 2015, including performance estimates and the current status of the analysis, as well as a status report on payload development for SPIDER's upcoming second flight.

Partially Acoustic Dark Matter, Interacting Dark Radiation, and Large Scale Structure
October 14, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Yuhsin Tsai, University of Maryland

The standard paradigm of collisionless cold dark matter is in tension with measurements on large scales. In particular, the best fit values of the Hubble rate and the matter density perturbation inferred from the CMB seem inconsistent with the results from direct measurements. In this talk, I will discuss these issues and propose a solution to both problems from a dark sector that contains dark acoustic oscillations with dark fluid. Such a solution can be tested by future experiments designed to probe the CMB and large scale structure.

The Dark Energy Survey and Gravitational Waves
October 12, 2016 | 3:00 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Marcelle Soares-Santos, Fermilab

PDF | Video
In this talk I present recent results of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) searches for optical counterparts to Gravitational Wave (GW) events detected by the LIGO/Virgo Collaboration. Our program achieved greater sensitivity than any other optical facility last year. For the second observing campaign (Fall/2016-Spring/2017) our goals are to either make a detection or establish significant constraints on optical emission from such events. DES is the greatest optical imaging survey yet, aiming at percent-level precision measurements of cosmological parameters from a combination of probes such as type Ia supernovae, galaxy clusters, and weak gravitational lensing. These probes are limited by astrophysical systematics and new independent methods are required in order to beat systematic effects down to sub-percent levels. Standard sirens, events for which distances are determined from their gravitational wave signal, are one possible new method to meet that challenge. Our program will potentially have a great impact in our field by exploring this possibility from the observational perspective. In this talk I will also briefly discuss this exciting prospect for future observing campaigns.

Preparing for the 21cm future - lessons from the Bleien Galactic Survey project
October 7, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Chihway Chang, UofC

HI intensity mapping is emerging as a new and promising cosmological probe for both the large-scale structure and the early Universe. In preparation for the many large radio projects that are coming online, we launched the Bleien Galactic Survey project as an exercise to test new (and fun) techniques that could develop into useful tools in future surveys. I will first introduce the background science and basic setup of the experiment, and then touch upon two particularly interesting ideas - calibrating the telescope beam using drones, and RFI mitigation with start-of-the-art deep learning algorithms.

Towards precision cosmology with large scale structures: the halo model and perturbative approaches
September 30, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Irshad Mohammed, Fermilab

The theoretical modeling of the statistical observables of the large-scale structures of the Universe, like galaxy clustering, weak lensing etc., is necessary in order to derive any constraints on the cosmological parameters. One of the most important ingredients of the theoretical model is the two-point correlation function, or its Fourier transform the matter power spectrum. I will discuss the precision in its calculations based on a modified halo model, and the systematic effects due to the baryonic processes. Further, I will also discuss the covariance matrix of the matter power spectrum and its estimators based on the halo model and the perturbation theory. We find the agreement with the simulations is at a 10% level up to k ∼ 1 h/Mpc. We show that all the connected components are dominated by the large-scale modes (k < 0.1h/Mpc), regardless of the value of the wavevectors of the covariance matrix. Finally, I will provide a prescription for how to evaluate the covariance matrix from small box simulations without the need to simulate large volumes.

Higgs Relaxation Leptogenesis
June 3, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Lauren M Pearce, University of Minnesota & Valpariaso

The recent discovery of the Higgs boson, with a mass of 125 GeV, raises interesting possibilities for early universe cosmology. Its relatively flat potential means that it will typically acquire a large vacuum expectation value during inflation, ushering in a post-inflationary epoch of relaxation. In this talk, I will explore the possibilities for baryogenesis during this epoch.

CMB Lensing Measurements, Present and Future
May 20, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Blake D Sherwin, University of California, Berkeley

By directly probing the cosmic mass distribution, measurements of gravitational lensing in the CMB provide a wealth of information about neutrino masses, inflation, dark energy, and galaxy biases. In my talk, I will discuss current and future work in this new but rapidly advancing field. In particular, I will discuss current measurements of the CMB lensing power spectrum with the ACTPol experiment and future measurements with the CMB Stage-IV experiment, explaining the promise and challenges of upcoming ultra-high-precision studies of this lensing signal. Lensing is not only a signal, however, but also a source of noise that limits how much we can learn about the early universe via B-mode polarization. In my talk, I will explain why delensing - removing the lensing effect to reveal the primordial sky - is crucial for the future of CMB science and will discuss recent work in delensing theory and data analysis.

Resolving the Isotropic Gamma-Ray Background in the Search for Dark Matter
May 13, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Mariangela Lisanti, Princeton University

The presence of all-sky, diffuse gamma-ray emission has been known for several decades, but its origins remain an open question. While astrophysical sources such as Active Galactic Nuclei and star-forming galaxies almost certainly contribute to this Isotropic Gamma-Ray Background (IGRB), dark-matter annihilation may also leave an imprint. Therefore, resolving the components of the IGRB is an important step in pushing the sensitivity to signals of dark matter annihilation, particularly in the well-motivated parameter regime for Weakly Interacting Massive Particles. In my talk, I will present a new analysis method that takes advantage of photon-count statistics to distinguish astrophysical point sources from a potential dark-matter signal. I will show results obtained by applying this technique to public data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope. Using these data-driven methods, we can start to resolve the diffuse emission from ~1--189 GeV. I will discuss the possible nature of these sources and the implications for dark matter.

Results from the first year of the HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory
May 11, 2016 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Jordan Goodman, Maryland

PDF | Video
The High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma-ray Observatory in the high mountains of Mexico was completed in March of 2015 and is now giving us a new view of the TeV sky. HAWC is 15 times more sensitive than the previous generation of widefield EAS gamma-ray instruments and is able to detect the Crab nebula at >6σ with each daily transit. In our first year of operation, HAWC has a 5σ detection sensitivity for a source of ~50mCrab. Unlike Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes (IACTs), HAWC operates 24hrs/day with over a 95% on-time and observes the entire overhead sky (~2sr). HAWC’s peak energy sensitivity is 2-10 TeV which is ~10x higher than IACTs such as VERITAS and HESS, which makes their observations quite complementary. This talk will present results from the first year of HAWC data including our study of the galactic plane including new sources not yet detected by IACTs as well as spectra and morphology of bright sources. In addition, results of our monitoring of transient AGN will be presented.

ETHOS – From Dark Particle Physics to the Matter Distribution of the Universe and Beyond
May 6, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Francis-Yan Cyr-Racine, Harvard University

We formulate an effective theory of structure formation (ETHOS) that enables cosmological structure formation to be computed in a vast array of microphysical model of dark matter physics. This framework maps the detailed microphysical theories of particle dark matter interactions into the physical effective parameters that shape the linear matter power spectrum and the self-interaction transfer cross section of non-relativistic dark matter. These are the input to structure formation simulations, which follow the evolution of the cosmological and galactic dark matter distributions. These effective parameters in ETHOS allow the classification of dark matter theories according to their structure formation properties rather than their intrinsic particle properties, paving the way for future simulations to span the space of viable dark matter physics relevant for structure formation.

WIMPs taking selfies: the DAMIC experiment at SNOLAB
April 27, 2016 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Many tracks
Wednesday colloquium
Paolo Privitera, KICP/The University of Chicago

PDF | Video
The DAMIC (Dark MAtter In CCDs) experiment employs the bulk silicon of ~mm-thick charge-coupled devices (CCDs) to detect coherent elastic scattering of Weakly-Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) - putative yet-to-be-discovered particles which may explain the dark matter in the universe. This novel technique features an unprecedentedly low energy threshold (few tens of eVee) for the detection of nuclear recoils, providing optimal sensitivity for low mass WIMPs (< 10 GeV). In addition, the spatial resolution of the CCDs, unique amongst dark matter detectors, provides powerful methods to identify and mitigate environmental and cosmogenic backgrounds. I will show recent results from DAMIC R&D data which demonstrate the potential of the CCD technology for WIMP detectors and first images from DAMIC100, a 100 g detector with 18 CCDs under installation at SNOLAB.

More Is Different: The Power of Multi-Probe CMB/LSS Cross-Correlations
April 22, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Colin Hill, Columbia University

Overlapping multi-wavelength surveys allow qualitatively new cosmological constraints. In this talk, I will describe three recent such results. (1) I will present a measurement of the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel’dovich (SZ) effect with Planck, WMAP, and WISE data using a novel estimator that does not require redshift estimates for individual tracers. This measurement yields the tightest kinematic SZ-derived constraint on the low-redshift baryon fraction to date, and the result is consistent with the expectation from analyses of the primordial CMB and Big Bang nucleosynthesis. (2) I will describe an updated measurement of the thermal SZ - CMB lensing cross-correlation using the 2015 Planck full mission data. This signal constrains the mass dependence of the "hydrostatic mass bias" afflicting X-ray-based galaxy cluster mass estimates, a key systematic in cluster-based cosmological constraints. (3) I will discuss a constraint on the multiplicative shear bias in CFHTLenS data based on cross-correlations with Planck CMB lensing and CFHTLenS galaxy density maps, the first demonstration of this method on actual data. The result is consistent with a value of the shear bias that would alleviate the tension between cosmological constraints from CFHTLenS and the Planck CMB temperature power spectrum.

A New Measurement of the Hubble Constant
April 15, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Dan Scolnic, The University of Chicago

I will present a new, local, measurement by the SHOES team of the current rate of expansion (H0) of the universe from HST observations of Cepheid variables in host galaxies of Type Ia Supernovae. This measurement is a significant improvement from past measurements, and reduces many systematic uncertainties in past analyses. I will discuss the level of consistency of local measurements with measurements of H0 from the CMB.

Probing the Cosmic Dawn and the Epoch of Reionization with the 21cm Hydrogen Line
April 13, 2016 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Jacqueline Hewitt, MIT

Measurements of the cosmic microwave background at redshift z ~ 1100 give us information about the initial density fluctuations that seeded subsequent gravitational collapse and structure formation. Observations of galaxies and clusters at z <~ 7 give us information about the outcome of this structure formation. Between those redshifts lies a modern frontier of cosmology - the cosmic dawn that marked the formation of the first stars and galaxies and the deionization of the intergalactic medium. Direct observations of this phase of the universe's history are just beginning. A particularly promising technique is that of mapping hydrogen structures using the redshifted 21cm radio line. Several recently completed low frequency radio arrays are now operating and providing us with an early glimpse into the Epoch of Rionization. Building upon these results a next generation instrument, the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) is beginning construction. HERA will be significantly more capable, and presents interesting opportunities and challenges.

High-Scale Axions without Isocurvature from Inflationary Dynamics
April 8, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
John M Kearney, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

If the PQ-breaking scale f is larger than the inflationary Hubble scale HI, the PQ symmetry is broken during inflation. In the most straightforward models, this gives rise to a light axion field during inflation, which acquires isocurvature fluctuations. Such fluctuations are very stringently constrained by current CMB measurements---in fact, supposing the near-future observation of primordial tensor modes (i.e., a measurement of a non-zero scalar-to-tensor ratio r, indicating a high inflationary scale), these constraints would exclude simple models of QCD axion dark matter in which f is larger than HI. This is particularly problematic for the near-Planckian values of f favored by, for instance, string theory.

A variety of solutions have been proposed to ''resurrect'' high-scale axions. Many seek to leverage inflationary dynamics to modify the behavior or potential of the PQ field during inflation in order to suppress isocurvature. However, inflation and the axion potential are both very fragile, and readily disrupted by additional interactions or couplings. As such, it is important to carefully consider the viability of influencing the PQ field via inflationary dynamics; in other words, can this really be accomplished without messing up either inflation or the solution to the strong CP problem? In this talk, I'll discuss the variety of issues that can arise in these constructions, and highlight the steps one must take to build a viable model.

Gravity at the horizon: from the cosmic dawn to ultra-large scales
April 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Miguel Zumalacarregui, Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics

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Recent advances in cosmology provide both the motivation and the data to probe gravity on the largest scales available to observation. I will revise the landscape of gravitational theories, focusing on modern scalar-tensor theories and their cosmological implications. Then I will present the ongoing effort to test gravity in novel regimes such as the early universe, non-linear effects and ultra-large scales. I will also introduce the hi_class code (www.hiclass-code.net), which is central to this program.