Theoretical Particle Cosmology
Modern theoretical cosmology is concerned with the application of new theories of particle physics and gravitation. These theories help us to understand the evolution of the Universe from the earliest time to the present day. There are two essential reasons for doing this:
- to understand the Universe we observe around us today
- to test new particle physics theories and gravity theories against observation
Astroparticle Physics (also known as Particle Cosmology) relies on the fact that different theories make different predictions about the evolution of the Universe and therefore about the present-day state of the Universe. One in effect uses the Universe as a 'cosmic collider', with the telescopes used by astronomers and underground experiments used to detect dark matter playing the role of the particle detectors of collider experiments. The results of Astroparticle Physics complement those of colliders such as the CERN Large Hadron Collider. The 'cosmic collider' reaches energies vastly more extensive than those that can be reached by any collider on Earth.
Lancaster has been at the leading edge of research in theoretical cosmology and astroparticle physics since it became an established field in the early 1980s.
A significant part of our research is on the origin and nature of the primordial density perturbation. This serves as the 'seed' for the cosmic microwave background temperature fluctuations and the large-scale cosmological structures we can observe today. The group has made outstanding contributions to inflation theory. This theory accounts for the primordial density perturbation, in particular, the development of scalar and vector inflation and curvaton models, inflation models based on weakly-interacting dark matter particles, and supersymmetric inflation models.
We have also made fundamental contributions to:
- dark matter and baryogenesis
- the cosmology of supersymmetric particle theories
- Q-balls in supersymmetric cosmology
- primordial magnetic fields
- many other topics in modern cosmology and astroparticle physics
- Inflation Theory and Primordial Perturbations
- Scalar and Vector Curvaton Theory
- Dark Matter and Baryogenesis
- Cosmology of Supersymmetry
Theoretical Particle Cosmology PhD Projects Accordion
Modelling Cosmic Inflation and Dark Energy
Professor Konstantinos Dimopoulos
The project aims to investigate Cosmic Inflation and Dark Energy in the context of cutting-edge fundamental theories (e.g. string theory, modified gravity etc.) by contrast to existing and forthcoming observations (e.g. of the CMB radiation, Primordial Gravitational Waves etc.), thereby providing insights into the theoretical background and also on the tensions experienced by the current standard model of Cosmology (ΛCDM). The project will explore novel ideas about modelling Cosmic Inflation and Dark Energy, using both analytical and numerical techniques. The objective will be to develop new realistic models that will offer concrete predictions to be tested in the near future. Examples are, Quintessential Inflation, which considers that both Cosmic Inflation and Dark Energy are driven by a single degree of freedom in a common theoretical framework, the production of Primordial Black Holes by Cosmic inflation, which can be the Dark Matter, or the seeds of galactic supermassive black holes, and can also be employed to reheat the Universe, the generation of enhanced Primordial Gravitational Waves during a stiff period in the Universe history, which may follow Cosmic Inflation, and could be seen by the LISA space interferometer and so on. Questions of the initial conditions of Cosmic Inflation itself, either from spacetime foam or after a bounce, and also of the ultimate, possibly cataclysmic fate of the Universe as determined by Dark Energy might also be studied.
The Physics Department is the holder of an Athena SWAN Silver award and JUNO Championship status and is strongly committed to fostering diversity within its community as a source of excellence, cultural enrichment, and social strength. We welcome those who would contribute to the further diversification of our department.
The theoretical particle cosmology group offers specific training as well as supporting our students to attend other training courses in the department and to attend summer schools and other retreats.
- Particle Cosmology Directed Reading Programme - Dr K Dimopoulos/Dr J McDonald
- Relativistic Quantum Mechanics/Quantum Electrodynamics – Dr R Henderson
- Quantum Field Theory - Dr R Henderson
- Introduction to Probability and Statistics for EPP - Dr A Blake
Cosmology students attend the British Universities Summer School in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics (BUSSTEPP) at the end of their first year of studies. They also attend the annual Young Experimentalists and Theorists Institute (YETI) at Durham and regular UK Cosmology workshops. All of our students will have the opportunity to take part in international conferences.