University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, May 4th 2018
Speaker: Yanou Cui (U. California, Riverside)
Subject: Cosmic Archaeology with Gravitational Waves from Cosmic Strings

Cosmic strings are generic cosmological predictions of many extensions
of the Standard Model of particle physics, such as a U(1) symmetry breaking phase transition in the early universe or remnants of superstring theory. Unlike other topological defects, cosmic strings can reach a scaling regime that maintains a small fixed fraction of the total energy density of the universe from a very early epoch until today. If present, they will oscillate and generate gravitational waves with a frequency spectrum that imprints the dominant sources of total cosmic energy density throughout the history of the universe. In this talk I will demonstrate that current and future gravitational wave detectors, such as LIGO and LISA, could be capable of measuring the frequency spectrum of gravitational waves from cosmic strings and discerning the energy composition of the universe at times well before primordial nucleosynthesis and the cosmic microwave background where standard cosmology has yet to be tested. This work establishes a benchmark case that gravitational waves may provide an unprecedented, powerful tool for probing the evolutionary history of the very early universe.

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