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Fundamental Physics from the Cosmic Microwave Background

Objective

Much of the foundational evidence for our current model of cosmology, describing the origins and evolution of the Universe, has come from observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). This is relic light that has been travelling for almost 14 billion years since the Big Bang, carrying a picture of the Universe in its infancy. So far it has told us what the Universe is made of today, as well as its average density and its age. We find that it is only 5% normal matter, with the remainder composed of unknown components: 72% Dark Energy and 23% Dark Matter. We do not yet know their nature. We have also seen signatures that support the idea that structure in the Universe was seeded by tiny ripples in the otherwise smooth space, created during a rapid expansion of the Universe in the first trillionth of a second, called inflation'.

In Oxford I now propose to target additional information encoded in the CMB, by looking at measurements with higher resolution and sensitivity than ever before. The main goals of this proposal are to uncover convincing evidence for the inflationary scenario, and to better determine the nature of the Dark Energy component, particularly at early cosmic times. My team will be using data from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, a 6m telescope in Chile, and from ESA's Planck Satellite mission, which is observing the CMB over the whole sky and launched in 2009. We will have to deal with contamination both from our own Galaxy and from many other distant galaxies in order to convincingly extract the underlying signals from the high energy Universe.

Call for proposal

ERC-2010-StG_20091028
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant

Host institution

THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
Address
Wellington Square University Offices
OX1 2JD Oxford
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 500 000
Principal investigator
Joanna Dunkley (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Gill Wells (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (1)

THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 500 000
Address
Wellington Square University Offices
OX1 2JD Oxford
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Joanna Dunkley (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Gill Wells (Ms.)