Colloquia & Seminars, 2017
Current and Future Colloquia & Seminars, 2017
DateColloquia & Seminars
December 6, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Edivaldo Moura Santos, University of San Paolo
The not so boring ultra-high energy cosmic ray sky
December 8, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Ami Choi, The Ohio State University
Towards Accurate Cosmology with Galaxy Lensing Surveys

Past Colloquia & Seminars, 2017
DateColloquia & Seminars
November 17, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Katelin Schutz, UC Berkeley
Excluding a thin dark matter disk in the Milky Way with Gaia DR1
November 10, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Stephen Feeney, Flatiron Institute
Clarifying the Hubble constant tension
November 8, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Lawrence M Krauss, Arizona State University
Journey to the Beginning of Time: Turning Metaphysics into Physics
November 3, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Simone Ferraro, UC Berkeley
Surprises in the small scale CMB
October 27, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Shunsaku Horiuchi, Virginia Tech
The status of sterile neutrino dark matter
October 25, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Josh Frieman, The University of Chicago
Probing Cosmology with the Dark Energy Survey
October 13, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Marko Simonovic, Institute for Advanced Study
Efficient Evaluation of Cosmological Statistics Using FFTLog
October 11, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Joe Silk, IAP/JHU
The Limits of Cosmology
October 6, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Adam Solomon, University of Pennsylvania
Aspects of field theory with higher derivatives
September 29, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Francois Lanusse, Carnegie Mellon University
Machine Learning and Signal Processing for Weak Lensing Science: from galaxy image simulations to 3D mass maps
September 27, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Grayson C Rich, Triangle Universities Nuclear Lab
First observation of coherent elastic neutrino-nucleus scattering
June 9, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Julie Dumas, Vanderbilt University
Testing the Caustic Ring Dark Matter Halo Model Against Observations in the Milky Way
June 2, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Christopher Tunnell, University of Chicago
XENON1T results and how one can make the world's best direct dark matter detector in 5 easy steps
May 31, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Chihway Chang, University of Chicago
Mapping the Cosmos with the Dark Energy Survey - sneak peek of the first year weak lensing results
May 26, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Niharika Sravan, Northwestern University
Single and binary progenitors of 'partially stripped' supernovae
May 24, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Camille Avestruz, University of Chicago
Automated Object Classification for Large Scale Future Surveys: A Strong Lensing Example with Machine Learning
May 19, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Victor Buza, Harvard University
Constraining Inflation Using Present and Future CMB polarization experiments: performance-based forecasts
May 17, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Albert Stebbins, Fermilab
Fast Radio Bursts!
May 12, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Philip Chang, UW-Milwaukee
The Physics and Cosmology of TeV Blazars
May 5, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Rebekah A Hounsell, University of California Santa Cruz
Simulations of the WFIRST Supernova Survey and Forecasts of Cosmological Constraints
April 28, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Antonia Hubbard, Northwestern University
Searching for Dark Matter with the Micro-X Sounding Rocket
April 21, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Michael J Baker, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
The Vev Flip-Flop: Dark Matter Decay between Weak Scale Phase Transitions
April 19, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
J. Richard Bond, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto
Observing, Mapping and Mocking our Cosmic Beginnings
April 14, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Scott Hertel, University of Massachusetts
Superfluid 4He as a tool for sub-eV particle physics
April 7, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Cosmin Deaconu, The University of Chicago
Radio-detection of Ultra-High Energy Neutrinos with the ANITA Long-Duration Balloon Payload
April 5, 2017
3:30 PM
Wednesday colloquium
Juan I. Collar, University of Chicago
News from PICO and COHERENT
March 31, 2017
12:00 PM
Friday noon seminar
Alessandro Manzotti, University of Chicago
Delensing CMB B-modes: results from SPT
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

Towards Accurate Cosmology with Galaxy Lensing Surveys
December 8, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Ami Choi, The Ohio State University


The not so boring ultra-high energy cosmic ray sky
December 6, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Edivaldo Moura Santos, University of San Paolo

After more than 12 years of continuous data taking, the Pierre Auger Observatory has collected the largest dataset of ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECR) to date. It combines a set of fluorescence telescopes to measure the tiny emission of light from air molecules excited by the passage of air showers and an array of ground based water Cherenkov tanks to sample the shower particles at the ground level. Such a hybrid detection system has allowed a redundancy in reconstruction variables as well as the elimination of large systematic uncertainties associated to the absolute energy scale of atmospheric cascades through a data-driven cross-calibration procedure between the two detectors. The results obtained in the last years range include, for example, precise and accurate measurements of the UHECR flux across a few decades in energy, revealing distinctive spectral features that can bring valuable information on different astrophysical processes like: the transition from galactic to extragalactic fluxes; the different energy loss processes to which ultra-relativistic charged particles are subject during their propagation; the energetics of the production and acceleration of particles at the candidate sources. In this colloquium I should however focus on a particular observational probe, that is, the small levels of anisotropy in the flux of UHECR at different angular scales: from the small and intermediate ones, important for the identification of possible point sources, to the large angular scales, usually used to search for signs of the galactic to extragalactic transition. In particular, special attention will be devoted to the first observation of a large scale anisotropy signal at the highest energies recently reported by the collaboration.

Excluding a thin dark matter disk in the Milky Way with Gaia DR1
November 17, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Katelin Schutz, UC Berkeley

If a component of the dark matter has dissipative interactions, it could collapse to form a thin dark disk in our Galaxy coincident with the baryonic disk. It has been suggested that dark disks could explain a variety of observed phenomena, including mass extinction events due to periodic comet impacts. Using the first data release from the Gaia space observatory, I will present the results of a search for a dark disk via its effect on stellar kinematics in the Milky Way. I will discuss our strong new limits that disfavor the presence of a thin dark matter disk and present updated measurements on the total matter density in the solar neighborhood.

Clarifying the Hubble constant tension
November 10, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Stephen Feeney, Flatiron Institute

Hubble constant estimates from measurements of the local distance ladder and the cosmic microwave background (assuming a flat LCDM cosmology) are discrepant at the 2.8 to 3.4-sigma level. Interpreting this tension correctly requires a model-comparison calculation which depends strongly on the precise tails of the likelihoods in addition to the traditional ''n-sigma'' discrepancy. This model-comparison approach requires evaluation of the full distance-ladder likelihood, as opposed to a Gaussian or least-squares approximation to it. I will discuss our reframing of the distance ladder as a Bayesian Hierarchical Model (BHM), in which the Cepheids and supernovae (SNe) that comprise the ladder are fitted simultaneously and self-consistently. This highly flexible framework incorporates non-Gaussian anchor measurements, marginalizes over all relevant nuisance parameters and allows the use of heavy-tailed intrinsic scatter distributions to obtain robust inferences even in the presence of outliers, without resorting to unstable clipping methods. Using this BHM, I will clarify the Hubble constant tension by comparing LCDM to a model designed to predict the observed discrepancy.

Journey to the Beginning of Time: Turning Metaphysics into Physics
November 8, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Lawrence M Krauss, Arizona State University

Video
Even a generation ago, fundamental existential questions such as, "How did the Universe Begin?, How will it End?, Are we Alone, and, Are there OTHER Universes?," and other less grand but no less interesting questions such as "Do Black Holes Exist?" may have appeared as forever inaccessible metaphysical questions. Gravitational waves have now been discovered by LIGO, opening up a vast new window on the Universe. I will explain how we might eventually unambiguously detect a gravitational signal from moments after the Big Bang, pushing our direct empirical handle on the Universe back in time by 49 orders of magnitude, and revealing what we might learn about own origins, the nature of gravity, grand unification, and even the possible existence of other universes.

Surprises in the small scale CMB
November 3, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Simone Ferraro, UC Berkeley

Information about the late-time Universe is imprinted on the small scale CMB as photons travel to us from the surface of last scattering. Several processes are at play and small scale fluctuations are very rich and non-Gaussian in nature.
I will review some of the most important effects and I will focus on the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effect and gravitational lensing. I will discuss how a combination of measurements can probe velocity fields at cosmological distances, inform us on cluster energetics and feedback processes, and detect the properties of patchy reionization. If time allows, I will describe new approaches to CMB lensing reconstruction on small scales.

The status of sterile neutrino dark matter
October 27, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Shunsaku Horiuchi, Virginia Tech

The sterile neutrino is a warm dark matter candidate with a host of observable signatures that have recently been sensitively tested. I will first review the sterile neutrino before introducing constraints arising from structure formation and high-energy astrophysics. These offer important complementarity in covering the sterile neutrino parameter space and I will highlight some of the recent rapid progress. I will also discuss ways forwards to test whether the 3.5 keV line detected in multiple dark matter concentrations may be arising from sterile neutrino dark matter.

Probing Cosmology with the Dark Energy Survey
October 25, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Josh Frieman, The University of Chicago

Video
I will overview the Dark Energy Survey (DES) project and highlight its early science results, focusing on the recently released cosmology results from the first year of the survey. The DES collaboration built the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera for the Blanco 4-meter telescope at NOAO's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to carry out a deep, wide-area, multi-band optical survey of several hundred million galaxies and a time-domain survey to discover several thousand supernovae. The survey started in Aug. 2013 and is now in its fifth observing season. DES was designed to address the questions: why is the expansion of the Universe speeding up? Is cosmic acceleration due to dark energy or does it require a modification of General Relativity? DES is addressing these questions by measuring the history of cosmic expansion and the growth of structure through multiple complementary techniques: galaxy clusters, the large-scale galaxy distribution, gravitational lensing, and supernovae, as well as through cross-correlation with other data sets. I will also discuss how the DES data are being used to make a variety of other astronomical discoveries, from the outer Solar System to ultra-faint dwarf galaxies to the kilonova counterpart of a binary neutron star gravitational-wave source.

Efficient Evaluation of Cosmological Statistics Using FFTLog
October 13, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Marko Simonovic, Institute for Advanced Study

The FFTLog algorithm can be seen as a way to decompose the linear power spectrum onto a basis of complex power-law functions. On the other hand, many important integrals in cosmology that involve power spectra have simple analytical solutions for a power-law universe. In this talk I will show how to combine these two ideas in practice. I will discuss applications to evaluation of the angular power spectrum and bispectrum of arbitrary observables, as well as evaluation of the loop integrals in cosmological perturbation theory of large-scale structure.

The Limits of Cosmology
October 11, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Image courtesy: J. Lazio
Wednesday colloquium
Joe Silk, IAP/JHU

Video
One of our greatest challenges in cosmology is understanding the origin of the structure of the universe, and in particular the formation of the galaxies. I will describe how the fossil radiation from the beginning of the universe, the cosmic microwave background, has provided a window for probing the initial conditions from which structure evolved and seeded the formation of the galaxies, and the outstanding issues that remain to be resolved. I will address our optimal choice of future strategy in order to make further progress on understanding our cosmic origins.

Aspects of field theory with higher derivatives
October 6, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Adam Solomon, University of Pennsylvania

I will discuss related aspects of field theories with higher-derivative Lagrangians but second-order equations of motion, with a focus on the Lovelock and Horndeski classes that have found use in modifications to general relativity. In the first half I will discuss how non-perturbative effects, like domain walls and quantum tunneling, are modified in the presence of these kinetic terms. In the second half I will investigate when restricting to such terms is and is not well-justified from an effective field theory perspective.

Machine Learning and Signal Processing for Weak Lensing Science: from galaxy image simulations to 3D mass maps
September 29, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Francois Lanusse, Carnegie Mellon University

The next generation of large-scale cosmological surveys, such as LSST, WFIRST and Euclid, aim at answering fundamental questions on the nature of dark energy and dark matter by measuring the weak lensing signal (gravitationally induced deformation of galaxy images) over large areas of the sky. In this talk, I will illustrate how the most recent advances in Machine Learning and Statistical Signal Processing open new perspectives for addressing some of the challenges faced by these new surveys as well as exploiting this wealth of data in new and exciting ways. In particular, I will focus on our work with Deep Generative Models in two different settings: simulating realistic galaxy images for shape measurement calibration purposes, and modeling the intrinsic alignment signal (the tendency of galaxies to align with the large scale structure) in hydrodynamical simulations, with the aim of producing realistic mock galaxy catalogs. Both of these applications aim to address some of the main systematics of future wide field lensing surveys. Finally, I will present an application of sparse signal processing which makes possible the reconstruction of high-resolution 3D weak lensing mass maps, with the ability to disentangle structures along the line of sight and resolve individual clusters.

First observation of coherent elastic neutrino-nucleus scattering
September 27, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Grayson C Rich, Triangle Universities Nuclear Lab

Video
The process of coherent elastic neutrino-nucleus scattering (CEvNS) was predicted in 1974 by D.Z. Freedman, who suggested that attempts to detect CEvNS “may be an act of hubris” due to several profound experimental challenges. More than 40 years after its initial description, the world’s smallest functional neutrino detector has been used by the COHERENT Collaboration to produce the first observation of the process: a 14.6-kg CsI[Na] scintillator was deployed to the Spallation Neutron Source of Oak Ridge National Lab and observed, with high significance, evidence for a CEvNS process in agreement with the prediction of the Standard Model. I will discuss CEvNS and its connection to a range of exciting physics, including: its potential role in supernova dynamics; the possibility to use neutrinos as a tool for studying nuclear structure and neutron stars; its relationship to upcoming direct searches for WIMP dark matter; and the ways in which CEvNS could offer insight into physics beyond the Standard Model. The experimental program and the recent result from the COHERENT Collaboration will be presented along with ongoing efforts within the collaboration and future plans.

Testing the Caustic Ring Dark Matter Halo Model Against Observations in the Milky Way
June 9, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Julie Dumas, Vanderbilt University

A prediction of axion dark matter models is they can form Bose-Einstein condensates and rigid caustic rings as a halo collapses in the non-linear regime. In this talk, I will present results from the first study of the caustic ring model for the Milky Way halo (Duffy & Sikivie 2008), focusing on observational consequences. I will describe the formalism for calculating the gravitational acceleration of a caustic ring halo. The caustic ring dark matter theory reproduces a roughly logarithmic halo, with large perturbations near the rings. I will show that this halo can reasonably match the known Galactic rotation curve. We explored the effects of dark matter caustic rings on dwarf galaxy tidal disruption with N-body simulations. N-body simulations of the Sagittarius (Sgr) dwarf galaxy in a caustic ring halo potential, with disk and bulge parameters that are tuned to match the Galactic rotation curve, match observations of the Sgr trailing tidal tails as far as 90 kpc from the Galactic center. Like the Navarro-Frenk-White (NFW) halo, they are, however, unable to match the leading tidal tail. None of the caustic, NFW, or triaxial logarithmic halos are able to simultaneously match observations of the leading and trailing arms of the Sagittarius stream. I will further show that simulations of dwarf galaxies that move through caustic rings are qualitatively similar to those moving in a logarithmic halo.

XENON1T results and how one can make the world's best direct dark matter detector in 5 easy steps
June 2, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 576 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Christopher Tunnell, University of Chicago

Within the last month, we on the XENON collaboration published our first results from the XENON1T experiment's 34.2 live day run, which is the first ton-scale detector using this world-leading technology of liquid-xenon time-projection chambers. These results do not make any claims of a dark matter signal but rather further weaken the WIMP hypothesis. In these results, which had a large contribution from the KICP XENON group, you can think of there as being a checklist of requirements needed to have strong results like ours in this competitive field. This includes rather physical requirements such as being able to contain ~3000 kg of liquid xenon at cryogenic temperatures, where I will discuss the hardware insomuch as it is of interest to cosmologists. My focus however will be on the analysis we performed, where beyond our WIMP results, we were able to establish that this detector is the quietest on earth (1.93 +/- 0.25) * 10^-4 events/(kg day keV). This allows us, when combined with novel calibration and analysis techniques, to set the strongest limits for WIMP masses above 10 GeV, with a minimum of 7.7e-47 cm^2 at 35 GeV. In explaining how we produced these results, the promising prospects for XENON1T in the coming years will become clear.

Mapping the Cosmos with the Dark Energy Survey - sneak peek of the first year weak lensing results
May 31, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC Auditorium 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Image credit: Andreas Papadopoulos
Wednesday colloquium
Chihway Chang, University of Chicago

Video
Weak gravitational lensing, or weak lensing, is one of the most powerful tools in cosmology. The technique relies on measuring accurately the shape of a large number of galaxies, and statistically translating the shape measurements into (dark matter) mass distributions. The first year data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES Y1) provides the most powerful weak lensing dataset to date. In this talk I will first give an update on the status of the cosmology analysis from DES Y1 data and present some preliminary results. Next, I will describe our work in generating and testing the wide-field weak lensing mass maps from the galaxy shape measurements and some exciting applications for the maps. I will end with thoughts on how weak lensing could also inform us on various topics of galaxy formation, which is essential for completing the story behind the Universe we see today.

Single and binary progenitors of 'partially stripped' supernovae
May 26, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Niharika Sravan, Northwestern University

The rise of survey telescopes in the past decade have led to an explosion in the number of supernovae (SNe) discovered and the amount of information available on them. They have revealed an unexpected diversity in the properties of progenitor stars and their environments. Unfortunately, theoretical efforts to explain these have lagged. However, there is a growing urgency for robust theoretical models to inform supernova (SN) observations given the imminent launch of LSST, which threatens to overwhelm current techniques for studying SNe.

As a step towards addressing this vacuum, we undertake a comprehensive study of a group of 'partially stripped' SNe, known as Type IIb SNe. These are in need of theoretical interpretation because mechanisms driving significant mass loss in the progenitor stars are an open question. In this talk, I will describe single and binary progenitors of Type IIb SNe and their properties. I will present results for the application of our work to the most recent Type IIb with a detected progenitor, SN 2016gkg. In particular, we derive observational constraints for the progenitors and binary companions of SN 2016gkg that can be verified in the future.

Automated Object Classification for Large Scale Future Surveys: A Strong Lensing Example with Machine Learning
May 24, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Camille Avestruz, University of Chicago

Video
Gravitational lensing offers a direct probe of the underlying mass distribution of lensing systems, a window to the high redshift universe, and a geometric probe of cosmological models. The advent of large scale surveys such as the Large Synoptic Sky Telescope and Euclid has prompted a need for automatic and efficient identification of strong lensing systems. We present (1) (ALL) Automated Lensing Learner, a strong lensing identification pipeline that will be publicly released as open source software, and (2) a publicly available mock LSST dataset with strong galaxy-galaxy lenses. In this first application of the pipeline, we employ a fast feature extraction method, Histogram of Oriented Gradients (HOG), to capture edge patterns that are characteristic of strong gravitational arcs in galaxy-galaxy lensing. We use logistic regression to train a supervised classifier model on the HOG of HST- and LSST-like images. Our tests demonstrate an efficient and effective method for automatically identifying strong lenses that captures much of the complexity of the arc finding problem. The linear classifier both runs on a personal laptop and can easily scale to large data sets on a computing cluster, all while using existing open source tools.

Constraining Inflation Using Present and Future CMB polarization experiments: performance-based forecasts
May 19, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Victor Buza, Harvard University

A long-sought prediction of our most refined approach to early universe cosmology, the inflationary theory, is the existence of primordial gravitational waves. A potential observational signature of these waves are so called "primordial B-modes" in CMB polarization maps. However, local sources such as galactic dust and synchrotron, as well as lensing of the CMB, also produce "B-mode" signals that need to be untangled from the observed signal in order to make precise claims about the early universe.

In this talk I will describe a multicomponent likelihood analysis framework for joint analyses of various CMB datasets that takes into account multiple signal types, and its subsequent use for analysis of BICEP2, Keck and Planck CMB polarization data to derive the tightest current constraints, parametrized by the tensor-to-scalar ratio, on primordial B-modes (r<0.07).

I will also talk about modifying this likelihood framework into a spectral-based Fisher projection framework that allows using current achieved performances from various CMB experiments to make robust forecasts for future CMB-polarization endeavors. This approach is unique in its implementation of real-life experimental inefficiencies by using actual on-sky performance of BICEP/Keck experiments, which produced leading constraints on r, to scale to future capabilities. This framework allows for rapid iteration on how various experimental configurations affect the underlying science results. It has been extensively used in the context of optimizing survey configurations, and calculating inflation projections for the next generation experiment in the BICEP/Keck series, and the field-wide CMB-Stage 4 endeavor.

Fast Radio Bursts!
May 17, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
Albert Stebbins, Fermilab

Video
On a human scale most astronomical sources are large and vary slowly. They must be large enough to produce enough light be to seen at astronomical distances and the light travel time across a large source limits the timescale for observable variations. Nevertheless in recent years extremely rapidly varying radio emission has been detected and found to be a common phenomena. The most extreme case has timescales as small as one nanosecond, inferred size smaller than one meter, peak luminosity exceeding that of the Sun, and is observed at a distance of 2kpc. More numerous and further away are Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), originating at cosmological distances, lasting a millisecond and arriving at Earth a few times a minute. These events are the brightest sources known in terms of an off-scale brightness temperature, yet the emission mechanism is undetermined. I will discuss some ideas for the origin of this emission and how these bright bursts could be used to augment gravitational wave and neutrino astronomy as well as the study of cosmological parameters and the intergalactic medium.

The Physics and Cosmology of TeV Blazars
May 12, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Philip Chang, UW-Milwaukee

The universe is teeming with very high energy gamma ray sources (> 100 GeV), but it is generally thought that their impact on the universe is minor at best. On energetic grounds, this assumption seems well-founded because the energy density in TeV photons is 0.2% of that of ionizing photons from quasars. However, as I hope to show in this talk, this is not the case. Rather, the greater efficiency by which TeV photons can be converted to heating in the intergalactic medium (IGM) allows TeV blazars dominate the heating of the IGM at low redshift. I will discuss the nature of this conversion via beam instabilities. I will then discuss how the resultant heating from these TeV sources makes dramatic differences for constraints on the intergalactic magnetic field, on the formation of structure, and on the redshift evolution of TeV blazars. I will also discuss how it gives rise to the inverted temperature-density profile of the IGM, the bimodality of galaxy clusters, and the paucity of dwarf galaxies in galactic halos and voids.

Simulations of the WFIRST Supernova Survey and Forecasts of Cosmological Constraints
May 5, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Rebekah A Hounsell, University of California Santa Cruz

The Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) was the highest ranked large space-based mission of the 2010 New Worlds, New Horizons decadal survey. It is now a NASA mission in formulation with a planned launch in the mid-2020's. A primary mission objective is to precisely constrain the nature of dark energy through multiple probes, including Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia). Within this talk I present the first realistic simulations of the WFIRST SN survey based on current hardware specifications and using open-source tools. I will review different survey strategies with varying time allocations between WFIRST's wide-field channel (WFC) imager and integral field channel (IFC) spectrometer, and predict the dark energy task force figure of merit (DETF FoM) for each strategy. Even without improvements to other cosmological probes, the WFIRST SN survey has the potential to increase the FoM by more than an order of magnitude from the current values.

Searching for Dark Matter with the Micro-X Sounding Rocket
April 28, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Antonia Hubbard, Northwestern University

The Micro-X sounding rocket uses a Transition Edge Sensor (TES) array to make X-ray observations. The improved energy resolution of TESs compared to traditional space-based X-ray detectors brings new precision to both supernova remnant observations and the X-ray search for sterile neutrino dark matter. Current X-ray observations disagree over the potential presence of a 3.5 keV X-ray line consistent with a sterile neutrino interaction, and Micro-X is in a unique position to establish or refute the presence of this line. I will present the construction status of the instrument and expectations for flight observations, with special emphasis given to the prospects of sterile neutrino studies.

The Vev Flip-Flop: Dark Matter Decay between Weak Scale Phase Transitions
April 21, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Michael J Baker, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

We discuss a new alternative to the Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP) paradigm for dark matter. Rather than being determined by thermal freeze-out, the dark matter abundance in this scenario is set by dark matter decay, which is allowed for a limited amount of time just before the electroweak phase transition. We discuss a concrete model which exhibits a ``vev flip-flop'' and show that it is phenomenologically successful in the most interesting regions of its parameter space. We comment on detection prospects, primarily at the LHC.

Observing, Mapping and Mocking our Cosmic Beginnings
April 19, 2017 | 3:30 PM | ERC 161 | Wednesday colloquium
Wednesday colloquium
J. Richard Bond, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto

Video
I will give my take on the phenomenology (and yes theory) of inflation as revealed in Planck and other CMB) and LSS experiments, but with an eye to the glorious CMB future of AdvACT, CCAT-p, Simons Observatory, Stage 4, and the LSS of Euclid, Chime, and much more besides that we mock. Apart from displaying linear and quadratic maps of the primordial universe, a compression of what we now know, i will chat about CMB/LSS anomalies, in practice and in theory, pointing to post-inflation chaotic dynamical systems that can lead to subdominant non-Gaussian signals unlike the ones we have put such stringent constraints on with Planck 2015; and relate everything to non-equilibrium entropies, including the formation of all cosmic structure.

Superfluid 4He as a tool for sub-eV particle physics
April 14, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Scott Hertel, University of Massachusetts

Efforts to observe interactions between galactic dark matter and laboratory test particles are undergoing a transition, broadening out from the standard WIMP hypothesis. Some models newly attracting attention inhabit the keV-MeV mass range. The dominant practical challenge in probing this light mass range is the development of detector technologies sensitive to sub-eV energy depositions. I'll describe both the general challenge of this low-energy regime and also one possible technological path forward, employing meV-scale kinetic excitations of the superfluid state.

Radio-detection of Ultra-High Energy Neutrinos with the ANITA Long-Duration Balloon Payload
April 7, 2017 | 12:00 PM | ERC 401 | Friday noon seminar
Friday noon seminar
Cosmin Deaconu, The University of Chicago

The interactions of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays with the Cosmic Microwave Background are expected to produce a flux of EeV-scale neutrinos through the GZK process. Successful detection of these cosmogenic neutrinos would help elucidate the sources of the highest-energy cosmic rays and probe the standard model in a new regime. Due to the low predicted flux and small interaction cross-section, an enormous detector is required for successful measurement.

The Antarctic Impulse Transient Antenna (ANITA) long-duration balloon payload scans the Antarctic ice sheet for radio emission produced by the interactions of cosmogenic neutrinos in ice. At altitude, ANITA instantaneously instruments a volume on the order of 10^6 km^3. This talk will provide an overview of the ANITA detection technique, instrumentation, analysis methods, and results so far. I will focus on the recent fourth flight of ANITA, completed in December, as well as a strange event detected in the first ANITA flight that is potentially of neutrino origin.

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

Video
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.