Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Testing flatness of the universe with probes of cosmic distances and growth
by Mortonson, Michael J., Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2009, 88; 3369455
Abstract (Summary)

When using distance measurements to probe spatial curvature, the geometric degeneracy between curvature and dark energy in the distance–redshift relation typically requires either making strong assumptions about the dark energy evolution or sacrificing precision in a more model-independent approach. Measurements of the redshift evolution of the linear growth of perturbations can break the geometric degeneracy, providing curvature constraints that are both precise and model-independent. Future supernova, CMB, and cluster data have the potential to measure the curvature with an accuracy of σ(Ω K) = 0.002, without specifying a particular dark energy phenomenology. In combination with distance measurements, the evolution of the growth function at low redshifts provides the strongest curvature constraint if the high-redshift universe is well approximated as being purely matter dominated. However, in the presence of early dark energy or massive neutrinos, the precision in curvature is reduced due to additional degeneracies, and precise normalization of the growth function relative to recombination is important for obtaining accurate constraints. Curvature limits from distances and growth compare favorably to other approaches to curvature estimation proposed in the literature, providing either greater accuracy or greater freedom from dark energy modeling assumptions, and are complementary due to the use of independent data sets. Model-independent estimates of curvature are critical for both testing inflation and obtaining unbiased constraints on dark energy parameters.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hu, Wayne
Commitee: Levin, Kathy, Meyer, Stephan, Sethi, Savdeep
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Physics
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Astronomy, Theoretical physics
Keywords: Cosmic distances, Curvature, Dark energy, Flatness
Publication Number: 3369455
ISBN: 9781109315653
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