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Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the UniverseWPI

IPMU Seminar

Date: September 18, 2008, 13:30 - 14:30
Place: FS hall, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences
Speaker: Brian Powell (IPMU)
Title: What we know (and may ever know) about inflation [PDF]
Abstract: Recent observations of the CMB anisotropies and large scale structure in the universe have revealed much about the inflationary era. In particular, the primordial power spectrum is consistent with a nearly scale invariant power-law, as expected from the simplest models of slow roll inflation. In this talk, I will discuss whether other, more exotic spectral shapes are allowed by the data. I will present a parameterization-independent Monte Carlo method suitable for identifying these spectra, and reconstruct the inflaton potentials that generate them. Surprisingly, we find that spectra with a large running, generated by initially rapidly rolling inflaton fields, are in good agreement with current data. I will lastly discuss the future prospects of potential reconstruction as might be expected with the upcoming Planck mission. I will focus on potential reconstruction within the larger class of non-canonical inflation models, a class including DBI and k-inflation, and conclude that a measurement of non-Gaussianities will be essential for a successful reconstruction program.