The current model of the Universe requires merely 6 parameters to be consistent with essentially all available data. These 6 parameters are known with a sub-percent precision. (Credit: WMAP/NASA)

The astrophysical and cosmological observations provide us with a unique opportunity of testing fundamental laws of physics in conditions so extreme that they can not be (re)produced in terrestrial, human-made laboratories: not at the present, and not in a foreseeable future.  This is the case of the extremely high energies reached in the very early Universe, which are billion or trillion times higher than those accessible to the largest and most powerful artificial particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. This is also the case of extremely strong gravitational fields and extreme densities of matter as produced in a collapse of two very dense objects (neutron stars an/or black holes). We can however learn about the physics laws in action in these extreme conditions by studying (astro)particles arriving to our terrestrial observatories from afar, be it the photons of the cosmic microwave background or gravitational waves (gravitons) of appropriate frequency in the former and latter case respectively.

The cosmological and astroparticle observations provide also one of the most efficient and complementary to the other efforts way of uncovering effects which are extremely weak on the scales available to our local measurements but become significant when accumulated over extremely long trajectories and/or averaged over large scales and very many objects. These can manifest themselves, for instance, through small but detectable deviations of the light of the background objects due to the gravity of the intervening structures which are found between the background sources and us, so-called weak lensing effect, or through small changes in the correlations of the galaxies and cosmic microwave background anisotropies, or through the minute changes of the manner the light emitted by distant supernovae is stretched.

As its global scientific objective the Center aims at exploration of this very rich frontier between the astrophysical and cosmological scales and fundamental laws of physics as well as fundamental properties of particles and/or fields constituting dominant components of the Universe.

These exciting opportunities are made possible thanks to a simple but very efficient model of the Universe, the current standard cosmological model. It successfully accounts for the vast majority of the existing observational data while requiring merely 6 (effective) parameters. This sets the stage for further, more pointed investigations as the one introduced above. If we think of this entire endeavor as using the Universe as a fundamental physics laboratory, the standard cosmological model serves as the manual of our experimental apparatus.

Main specific scientific objectives of the Center are defined around four main themes:

    • uncovering the nature of the cosmological components;
    • understanding the mechanism behind the generation of initial primordial fluctuations, e.g., inflation;
    • understanding gravity and fundamental physics via efficient exploitation of gravitational wave observations;
    • promoting multi-disciplinarity in particular in the context of capitalizing on, as well as adapting and developing, new data science techniques relevant to the challenges faced by the three main objectives listed above.

To learn more about the science aimed at by the Center follow the links below.

Dark Energy Dark Matter Inflation Rel. matter Grav. Waves