A Cosmic Census – and the means to do it right

  • May 8, 2017, 2:00 pm
  • Peter Melchior, Princeton

Weak gravitational lensing is an important driver of large astronomical surveys. It presents the only way to determine the mass distribution in the universe over a wide range of scales: galaxies, galaxy clusters, voids, and the cosmic web as a whole. I will show the latest results of the Dark Energy Survey for each of those scales and illustrate what we learn from them about the fundamental building blocks of the universe. I will also discuss what holds us back: improper treatment of observational realities, theoretical challenges, and a widening chasm between observers and theorists. To address those, I will present new techniques for image analysis that are based in identifying the mathematical principles governing the observations, as well as collaborative efforts to bridge the gaps within the astronomical community. These approaches are interdisciplinary in nature: they draw from advances in astrophysics, mathematics, and statistics, and will enable us to fully utilize the wealth of information in current and upcoming cosmological surveys.