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Astrophsyics

PCOS Science Goals

Precisely measure the cosmological parameters governing the evolution of the universe and test the inflation hypothesis of the Big Bang

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) originated just 380,000 years after the Big Bang, when the Universe was dense, hot, and opaque. As the Universe cooled, the light was decoupled and escape from the matter. We observe that same light today, stretched by the expansion of the universe to a cold 2.7K glow. Observations of the CMB have driven our understanding of the early Universe, and are one of the few probes of the inflationary epoch. Inflation describes the brief period of extraordinary expansion where the Universe went from the atomic scale to visible scales, and where small density fluctuations ultimately led to the large-scale structure—galaxies and clusters of galaxies—that we observe today. Maps of the CMB provide a precise measurement of the geometry of the Universe, and show that it is "flat," governed by Euclidean geometry on cosmic scales. The detailed spatial and statistical properties of CMB maps are consistent with the predictions of inflation. However, the physical process behind inflation remains unknown. New measurements of the polarization properties of the CMB will help uncover this process, which lies at energies and densities beyond standard particle physics, and beyond terrestrial particle accelerators. By searching for a characteristic polarization signal from a background of gravitational waves produced by inflation, we can infer the energy scale of inflation, which may lie at the scale of grand unification of the forces of nature.


The European Space Agency LISA observatory


PCOS News

Program News and Announcements

18 January 2021
Meeting of Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) on 26–27 January 2021 »  Details.
14 January 2021
NuSTAR General Observer Cycle 7 Proposal Deadline 29 January 2021 »  Details.
6 January 2021
Draft Astrophysics Explorers Program Solicitations Released for Community Comment for Solicitations for both Medium Explorer (MIDEX) and Missions of Opportunity (APEXMO) and Comments for both draft solicitations due by 25 February 2021 »  Details.
16 December 2020
The 237th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Virtually Anywhere, 11–15 January 2021, will include Physics of the Cosmos events. The PCOS AAS2021 Meeting page lists currently scheduled sessions, presentations, chats, and displays »  Details.
4 December 2020
Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) Step-2 Due Date. Step-2 proposals now due 3 February 2021. Step-1 proposal due date unchanged as 11 December 2020 »  Details.
4 December 2020
Release of Final text and Due Dates for ROSES Post-COVID Recovery program. Requests received by 4 January 2021 will be processed first. Final due date is 5 March 2021. »  Details.

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Links

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