Inflation, Dark Matter and the Large-Scale Structure of the Universe


The goal of this research project is to investigate the interconnection between particle physics and crucial aspects of the standard cosmological model. We plan to investigate inflationary models of the Early Universe, the nature of dark matter (DM) and dark energy (DE) or possible scenarios of modified gravity. Particular emphasis is given to the present-day and future observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, the study of the Large-Scale Structure (LSS) of the Universe through present and future surveys. The new results from LHC and the Planck satellite provide a treasure trove that allows to test/rule out with the highest precision/accuracy various models for the early universe. We also plan to study the astrophysical and cosmological properties of DM and DE; their influence on the formation of structure (from galaxy halos to LSS) and on CMB anisotropies. In particular we aim at establishing a collaboration challenging the state-of–the art analysis by focusing on:
  • theoretical investigation of inflation models (and their feedback on particle-physics models);
  • cosmological and particle physics properties of DE models;
  • testing General Relativity: alternative models of gravity, motivated by the evidence for cosmic acceleration, and their impact on cosmological observables;
  • numerical (simulations) and analytical techniques to study the non-linear evolution for DM density perturbations to reach the accuracy required by future generation galaxy surveys;
  • development of new statistical algorithms to be applied to present and future CMB and LSS datasets;
  • analysis of present CMB and LSS datasets to put constraints on inflationary models and models of DE/modified gravity;
  • LSS: complementary tests coming from statistics of large galaxy redshift surveys, gravitational weak lensing, analysis of galaxy cluster datasets, study of Ly-alpha forest in quasar absorption spectra.
  • Hydrodynamical simulations of massive neutrinos to study their impact on LSS (also through weak gravitational lensing) and of the Intergalactic Medium as a probe of cosmology and fundamental physics (e.g. warm DM).
  • DM distribution in galaxy halos and consequences for DM search experiments;
  • predictions of indirect signatures of DM candidates, in connection with experiments such as, e.g., FERMI, PAMELA and AGILE.