Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Explorations in dark energy
by Bozek, Brandon, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2009, 121; 3379646
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation describes three research projects on the topic of dark energy. The first project is an analysis of a scalar field model of dark energy with an exponential potential using the Dark Energy Task Force (DETF) simulated data models. Using Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling techniques we examine the ability of each simulated data set to constrain the parameter space of the exponential potential for data sets based on a cosmological constant and a specific exponential scalar field model. We compare our results with the constraining power calculated by the DETF using their "w 0wa" parameterization of the dark energy. We find that respective increases in constraining power from one stage to the next produced by our analysis give results consistent with DETF results. To further investigate the potential impact of future experiments, we also generate simulated data for an exponential model background cosmology which can not be distinguished from a cosmological constant at DETF Stage 2, and show that for this cosmology good DETF Stage 4 data would exclude a cosmological constant by better than 3σ. The second project details this analysis on a Inverse Power Law (IPL) or "Ratra-Peebles" (RP) model. This model is a member of a popular subset of scalar field quintessence models that exhibit "tracking" behavior that make this model particularly theoretically interesting. We find that the relative increase in constraining power on the parameter space of this model is consistent to what was found in the first project and the DETF report. We also show, using a background cosmology based on an IPL scalar field model that is consistent with a cosmological constant with Stage 2 data, that good DETF Stage 4 data would exclude a cosmological constant by better than 3σ. The third project extends the Causal Entropic Principle to predict the preferred curvature within the "multiverse". The Causal Entropic Principle (Bousso, et al.) provides an alternative approach to anthropic attempts to predict our observed value of the cosmological constant by calculating the entropy created within a causal diamond. We have found that values larger than ρk = 40ρ m are disfavored by more than 99.99% and a peak value at ρ Λ = 7.9 × 10-123 and ρ k = 4.3ρm for open universes. For universes that allow only positive curvature or both positive and negative curvature, we find a correlation between curvature and dark energy that leads to an extended region of preferred values. Our universe is found to be disfavored to an extent depending the priors on curvature. We also provide a comparison to previous anthropic constraints on open universes and discuss future directions for this work.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Albrecht, Andreas
Commitee: Knox, Lloyd, Tyson, Tony
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Physics
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 70/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Astrophysics, Theoretical physics
Keywords: Cosmology, Dark energy, Scalar fields
Publication Number: 3379646
ISBN: 9781109487534
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