Working closely with experimental data, our department focuses on probing the fundamental laws of physics and the origin of the physical universe. We work in the related areas of Nuclear, Particle and Mathematical Physics, Theoretical and Experimental Cosmology and Gravitational Wave Astronomy.
This department does basic research in several related fundamental physics topics:
1) Understanding cosmic acceleration and galaxy evolution through the study of the large-scale structure in Cosmic Maps. This includes the development of accurate predictions and models, data-oriented science pipelines and large CMB, weak gravitational lensing and galaxy simulations.
2) Classical and Quantum theories of modified gravity to understand in a unified way the evolution of our universe: starting from the Big Bang and inflation up to a possible future singularity. Quantum vacuum energy fluctuations and the Casimir effect in the domains of quantum field theory, gravity and cosmology. Zeta function regularization in this context. Heavy star formation in modified gravity models and its comparison with observations.
3) Relativistic gravitation. Theoretical studies of the main sources of gravitational waves, both for the construction of waveforms and for the development of new science from the observations.
4) The physics of compact stellar objects from its tiniest constituents and the quark-gluon plasma phase that existed mere millionths of a second after the Big Bang. Formulation and use of transport theories associated to these phases.
This department is involved in a number of Space and Ground based experiments, where we often cover most aspects of the project: funding and management, technical and science definition and design, instrumentation development, production and integration, software (control, data management and reduction) and science exploitation and interpretation. The current list of ongoing projects, at different stages of their completion (see details of main projects below) is:
5) Cosmological Galaxy Surveys: Dark Energy Survey (DES), Physics of the Accelerating Universe Survey (PAUS), Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) and Euclid. Also exploring to join WFIRST and LSST surveys. Development of large cosmological simulations (MICE), data reduction pipelines and database web portal access.
6) Gravitational Wave Missions: LISA-Pathfinder and, eLISA. Also work in preparation for Einstein Telescope, STE-QUEST, ELGAR, 3Cat-2 and GRLOW (in-house project).
7) Fundamental Physics Missions: Dense Matter Working Group of the Large Observatory for X- Ray Timing (LOFT) and the Fundamental Physics Scientific Panel of X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer (XIPE), that participates in the Cosmic Vision M4 ESA competition Key infrastructure expertise and labs include: instrument integration, control and management; hardware for space missions (control units, thermal and magnetic sensors, optical and mechanical systems); Software for space missions; electronics; laser interferometry at low frequencies; CCD and filter characterization; thermal and optical modeling and monitoring; cryogenic vacuum and cooling; telescope guiding, focus and alignment; instrument and image simulation; project requirements and documentation; optical Lab, magnetism Lab, clean, dark and operation rooms.
Examples of Synergies among these projects
DES is being used for rapid follow-up Gravitational Waves detections. DES, DESI and PAU built new Wide Field instruments (DECam, DESI and PAUcam) to carry state of the art galaxy surveys and placed on prime focus of 4-m class Telescopes (Blanco, Mayall and WHT). With these instruments we will probe the expansion history of the Universe and the evolution of cosmic structures by measuring the modification of shapes of galaxies induced by gravitational lensing effects of dark matter and the 3-dimensional distribution of structures of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. While DECam and DESI are update versions of existing concepts (eg SDSS), PAUcam is the first instrument of its kind to explore a new window in observational astronomy: that of complete samples with full Spectral Energy Distribution information. This unique feature in PAUcam will allow us to engage in key calibration studies for DES, DESI, Euclid, LSST and WFIRST. To model these surveys, we use the Marenostrum supercomputer at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre
, to develop the largest cosmological simulations to date, MICE. Simulations and real Galaxy catalogs are made publicly available through our dedicated CosmoHUB web portal
, jointly developed by the CFP department and the Port d'Informacio Cientifica (www.pic.es).
Head of Department: Enrique Gaztañaga