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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Models and probes of the early and dark Universe : inflation and 21-cm radiation in cosmology Sitwell, Michael


The prevailing model of modern cosmology stipulates the existence of exotic substances such as dark matter and dark energy and events such as inflation. However, their underlying nature is not currently known. In this thesis, we explore new models and measurement techniques that may be used to characterize their cosmological effects and shed light on their inner workings. A model of inflation driven by a substance that may be described macroscopically as a cosmological elastic solid is studied. The proper techniques for the quantization of perturbations within the elastic solid are presented. We find that a sufficiently rigid elastic solid with slowly varying sound speeds can produce an inflationary period. Interestingly, we find models where the elastic solid has an equation of state significantly greater than -1 that nevertheless produces nearly scale-invariant scalar and tensor spectra. The remaining chapters of this thesis concern the use of 21-cm radiation as a probe of the physics of dark matter and dark energy. The effects of warm dark matter on the highly-redshifted 21-cm signal is examined. If dark matter is warm instead of cold, its non-negligible velocities may inhibit the formation of low-mass halos, thereby delaying star-formation, which may delay the emission and absorption signals expected in the mean 21-cm signal. The effects of warm dark matter on both the mean 21-cm signal, as well as on its power spectrum, are described and degeneracies between the effects of warm dark matter and other astrophysical parameters are quantified. One of the primary goals of 21-cm radiation intensity mapping is to measure baryon acoustic oscillations over a wide range of redshifts to constrain the properties of dark energy from the expansion history of the late-time Universe. We forecast the constraining power of the CHIME radio telescope on the matter power spectrum and dark energy parameters. Lastly, we devise new calibration algorithms for the gains of an interferometric radio telescope such as CHIME.

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