Jan 24, 2013
Bradford Benson, University of Chicago
"Exploring Fundamental Physics with the Cosmic Microwave Background: New Results from the South Pole Telescope (Joint Astronomy Colloquium / WIPAC Seminar)"
The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is revolutionizing our understanding of the Universe. The CMB is the most powerful piece of evidence that we live in a geometrically flat Universe, dominated by non-baryonic cold dark matter and dark energy. Even with this basic cosmological model established, there are still many outstanding questions: What is dark energy? What are the neutrino masses? Are there missing standard model particles that we can detect cosmologically? Did Inflation happen, and what physics was responsible for it? The CMB remarkably is imprinted with information regarding each of these questions. In addition, the mm-wave CMB data is opening a new window into the extragalactic sky, simultaneously providing large catalogs of massive galaxy clusters, high-redshift lensed galaxies, and other mm-wave bright sources. I will present recent results from the South Pole Telescope, a 10-meter mm-wavelength telescope which recently completed a survey of 2500 sq. deg. of the sky with unprecedented depth and angular resolution. In particular, I will highlight SPT measurements of the CMB power spectrum, the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich galaxy cluster catalog, and the cosmological implications of the SPT data, including its constraints on dark energy, the sum of the neutrino masses, and the number of relativistic particle species.