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Title: Tests of the Planck cosmology at high and low redshifts
Author: Lemos Portela, Pablo
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 1043
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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The inflationary ΛCDM cosmology currently provides an accurate description of the Universe. It has been tested using several observational techniques over a wide redshift range, and it provides a good fit to most of them. In addition, it is a surprisingly economical model, requiring only six parameters to characterize the background cosmology and its fluctuations. In this model, the Universe is dominated by a cosmological constant Λ driving an accelerated expansion, and by cold dark matter. The strongest constraints on parameters to date come from observations of the temperature and polarization anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background measured by the Planck satellite. There are, however, indications of features in the Planck power spectra, possible differences with high redshift ground-based CMB experiments, and 'tensions' between Planck and low redshift measurements of the Hubble constant and weak gravitational lensing. In this thesis, we review possible tensions and extensions to the Planck cosmology, at both high and low redshifts. We begin with the high redshift analysis, using the Planck data to test models which introduce oscillatory features in the primordial power spectrum. We also study possible departures from slow roll inflation using the generalized slow-roll formalism, which allows for order unity deviations. Although we find models which give marginal improvements on the temperature or polarization power spectra, the combination of temperature and polarization is found to be consistent with a featureless power-law primordial spectrum. We then focus on measurements of the polarized CMB sky by the South Pole Telescope collaboration, who report tension between their measurements and the ΛCDM cosmology and with the cosmological parameters determined by Planck. We find evidence of a high χ2 in the SPTpol spectra which is unlikely to be cosmological. We report consistency between the Planck and SPTpol polarization spectra over the multipoles accessible to Planck (l ∼< 1500). We then investigate tension at low redshifts. We begin with weak gravitational lensing in which a number of surveys have suggested that the amplitude of the fluctuation spectra is lower than the Planck value. We review the small-angle approximations commonly used in galaxy weak lensing analyses and their effect on cosmological parameters. We find that these approximations are perfectly adequate for present and near future experiments. We find internal inconsistencies in the recent KiDS-450 analysis involving photometric redshifts and the KiDS covariance matrix at large scales. Finally, we investigate the difference between measurements of the present day expansion rate of the Universe. We apply a novel parameterization of the inverse distance ladder to determine the present date value of the Hubble parameter H0, which assumes General Relativity but makes no further assumptions about systematic errors or the nature of dark energy. Our analysis uses baryon acoustic oscillation data and Type Ia Supernovae to constrain the expansion history assuming a value of the sound horizon determined from the CMB. Our results are in tension with recent direct determinations of H0. We conclude that this tension, if real, cannot be solved by modifications of the ΛCDM model at late times. Instead, we would require a modification of the theory at early times which reduces the sound horizon. We conclude that at this time there is no compelling evidence that conflicts with the ΛCDM cosmology either at low or at high redshifts.
Supervisor: Efstathiou, George Sponsor: University of Cambridge ; Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Cosmology ; Weak Lensing ; Cosmic Microwave Background ; Inflation ; Theoretical Cosmology ; Observational Cosmology ; Large-Scale Structure