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ROMFORSK-Program for romforskning

Norwegian Participation in Euclid: Early Post-Launch Phase

Alternative title: Norsk deltagelse i Euclid: Den første tiden etter oppskytning

Awarded: NOK 11.7 mill.

Cosmology, the study of the Universe as a whole, has come a long way in the last twenty years, mainly because of observatories that have studied the cosmic microwave background and galaxy surveys that have mapped the distribution of galaxies in the Universe. This has given us a model, called the Standard Model, or LCDM, where most of the parameters are determined with a precision unthinkable 20 years ago. However, there are three major issues with the Standard Model. First, it postulates that ordinary matter, made of protons, neutrons and electrons, only make up 16% of the matter density in the Universe. The remaining 84% consists of something called Cold Dark Matter, which we don’t know what is. Secondly, it postulates that the Big Bang started with a so-called inflation phase, when the Universe expanded at an incredible rate. There are many possible theories for inflation, but so far they have few observational constrains. Most mystical at all, in the Standard Model, only 31% of the total energy density in the University is in the form of matter in any form, 69% consists of what we call Dark Energy, which is understood even less than the Dark Matter. However, it is needed to understand the accelerated expansion of the Universe. The satellite Euclid, which will be launched by ESA in late 2022 or early 2023, will attack all these three problems, and especially the Dark Energy problem. By studying the shapes of billions of galaxies and by measuring the velocity of hundreds of millions of galaxies, it will map the expansion of the Universe as a function of time with high accuracy. This project will finance first preparatory research which will enable Norwegian scientists to have a leading role in the analysis of the data, and then participation in the analysis of the first data.

One of the most outstanding problems in physics and astrophysics today is the existence of dark energy, which is inferred from the apparent accelerated expansion of the universe. Dark energy is believed to comprise about 70% of the energy content of the universe today, however, it's nature is largely unknown. The simplest model is to assume that the dark energy is in the form of a cosmological constant. There are, however, good reasons to believe that the nature of the dark energy could be more complicated than this. Euclid is an M-class mission to be launched in late 2022 or early 2023. Its primary objective is to study dark energy, secondary objectives are covering most of cosmology and astrophysics. The main observational targets will be baryonic acoustic oscillations and weak lensing measurements. Euclid was selected by ESA in 2011 as the third M mission in the Cosmic Vision programme, and it was adopted in 2012. This proposal is first of all for, coordinated by the Euclid Cosmological Simulations and Cosmological Theory Science Working Groups, studying the evolution of non-linear structures in the universe in a class of interesting cosmological models with modified gravity, and with massive neutrinos, baryonic physics and non-Gaussian initial conditions, and to compare them with the first-year Euclid data. This research project will give forecasts for how Euclid data best can give constraints, which are vital for the success of the mission. The project will continue building competence in numerical simulations of growth of structure in non-standard cosmological models. This is of utmost importance within the Euclid collaboration, since the comparison between data and theory cannot be performed only using a set of numerical and analytical models for galaxy clustering based on General Relativity and standard cold dark matter. This would limit the scientific return of Euclid and could lead to severe errors of interpretation.

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ROMFORSK-Program for romforskning