The Milky Way and the Local Group
Faculty members James Bullock, Manoj Kaplinghat, and Kevork Abazajian study the details of our own Galaxy (the Milky Way) and its close neighbors to provide insights into the broader cosmological puzzle of structure formation. Searches for structures in the outer galaxy and studies of dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way will be the subject of many astronomical observations in the next decade and promise to uncover the history of how our Galaxy was formed and test our ideas about dark matter.
Nature of Dark Matter
A majority of the mass in the Universe consists of an unknown substance known as dark matter. Determining the nature of dark matter is among the biggest puzzles in science today and is one of the primary research agendas within the Center for Cosmology. While astronomers originally pointed out this problem and continue to provide valuable insight into its behavior, it will likely be particle physicists who ultimately solve the mystery. Astronomers and particle physicists within the Center are working together the dark matter problem by using studies of galaxy dynamics and galaxy clusters to test new ideas from particle physics that may explain dark matter. Center members Jonathan Feng, Arvind Rajaraman and Tim Tait work on the particle nature of dark matter. Kevork Abazajian and Manoj Kaplinghat work on particle astrophysics and particle cosmology aspects of dark matter.
Mapping the Universe
Mapmaking is an ancient human enterprise — one that attempt to describe our place in the world (or Universe) and illuminate the broader context of our surroundings. Center faculty David Kirkby and Michael Cooper are working to establish cosmic maps of unprecedented scope and detail, as part of the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), weak lensing surveys with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), and the DEEP2 and DEEP3 Galaxy Redshift Surveys. Center faculty Asantha Cooray works with the Herschel Telescope in deep infrared surveys of the Universe and the cosmic infrared background. These cosmic maps are then used to probe the roles played by dark energy and dark matter in shaping our Universe or to study the physical processes that govern the formation and evolution of galaxies over cosmic time.