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Engineering the Cosmological Measurements with Old Stellar Populations

Rachael Beaton

Princeton University/Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science

The local expansion rate of the Universe, the Hubble constant, is one of the fundamental parameters in our current concordance cosmology and one that anchors the expansion history of the Universe. The resolution of the historical factor-of-two controversy in the Hubble constant nearly two decades ago (e.g., the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project; Freedman et al. 2001) has evolved into a >4.0-sigma tension between the traditional Cepheid-distance ladder measurements (Riess et al. 2019) and that inferred from modeling anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background (CMB; Planck Collaboration et al. 2018). At the heart of the tension is not only a difference in method but also a fundamental difference in how the techniques are anchored either in very local measurements (distance latter at z~0) or in the standard cosmological model (CMB at z~1100). As part of the Carnegie-Chicago Hubble Program, I participated in a 3-year project to measure the Hubble constant using the distance ladder with techniques independent of the classical Cepheid path by using the Tip of the Red Giant Branch (TRGB). I will motivate this form of the distance ladder using the history of the Hubble constant as a guide. I will discuss how we make the TRGB- measurements and the challenges that we solved in our program. Ultimately, our program produced a value intermediate between that of Cepheids and the CMB (Freedman et al. 2019), suggestive (but not conclusively so!) that there may yet be unresolved systematics in the Cepheid distance scale (though there has been ardent debate!). To close, I will show how the TRGB, especially used at infrared wavelengths, presents a uniquely powerful long-term distance-measurement technique in application to a number of cosmological problems.

Date: Jeudi, le 7 octobre 2021
Heure: 11:30
Lieu: Université de Montréal

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