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Title: Backlighting the universe: Understanding the large-scale structure through cosmic microwave background observations
Authors: Schaan, Emmanuel Sébastien
Advisors: Spergel, David N
Contributors: Astrophysical Sciences Department
Keywords: cosmic microwave background
large-scale structure
Lyman-alpha forest
Subjects: Astrophysics
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The primary fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the leftover heat from the big bang, have revealed invaluable clues about our universe (age, history, geometry, composition), and are now measured almost to the cosmic variance limit. While important fundamental physics questions remain to be answered from the primary CMB alone (e.g., detection of gravitational waves from inflation, number of relativistic species), many others require looking beyond the primary anisotropies: what is dark energy, this mysterious component responsible for the accelerated expansion of the universe? What is the nature of the dark matter, five times more abundant than ordinary matter? What are the masses of the neutrinos? The clustering pattern in the spatial distribution of galaxies across the universe, the so-called large-scale structure (LSS), contains the key to these fundamental physics questions, as well as many tightly related astrophysical questions: what are the key processes in galaxy formation? How did the universe transition from neutral to ionized, one billion years after the big bang? However, several hurdles hinder extracting this information: non-linear evolution under gravity is complex to model and turns independent Gaussian initial conditions into coupled non-Gaussian modes; uncertain astrophysical effects obscure the connection between visible and dark matter, and alter the matter power spectrum on small-scales; LSS observables are often complex and systematics-limited. In this thesis, I tackle these issues and explore various ways of using the CMB as a backlight for the LSS, to illuminate aspects of its uncertain physics and systematics. In the coming years, ever more sensitive CMB experiments (AdvACT, SPT-3G, Simons Observatory, CMB Stage 4) will overlap with imaging surveys (DES, HSC, LSST, Euclid, WFIRST) and spectroscopic surveys (DESI, PFS), thus greatly magnifying the power of the methods I developed, and helping to answer some of the most pressing astrophysics and fundamental physics questions.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Astrophysical Sciences

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