Cosmology from Surveys

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


It seems we live in a bizarre Universe. Recent measurements strongly favour a 'concordance' model in which the Universe is flat and contains approximately 4% baryons, 21% Cold Dark Matter and 75% Dark Energy .The concept of Dark Energy is a variant on Einstein's cosmological constant (Lambda). This 'Lambda+ Cold Dark Matter' paradigm and its extensions pose fundamental questions about the origins of the Universe. The Universe appears to have begun with a period of rapid inflation and eventually cooled into a dark world in which the first objects formed and re-ionized the Universe. Along with Dark Energy, these processes form the basis for research of this proposal. A unique feature of our Programme is that it brings together expertise in galaxy surveys, gravitational lensing, radio survey analysis and the CMB. The Programme also connects the UCL Cosmology and Instrumentation Teams. Since its foundation in 2004 the main focus of the Cosmology Team has been Dark Energy with heavy involvement and leadership roles in both the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and in the proposed ESA Euclid satellite. With the recruitment of two new members of staff in 2009 we have branched into the research areas of the Cosmic Microwave Background (utilizing the Planck satellite) and Radio Surveys (e.g. LOFAR). Therefore we have now a much broader coverage of modern Cosmology. We will estimate the properties of Dark Energy, constrain the physics of the very early Universe, study the phase change as the universe underwent Re-ionization, and potentially measure the mass of the neutrino for the first time. The proposed Programme is divided into four Themes, listed from low to high redshift: Theme 1 covers Cosmology from Photometric Redshift Surveys, Theme 2 is focused on Cosmic Shear from these surveys, Theme 3 explores Radio Surveys mainly for studying the Epoch of Re-ionization, and Theme 4 looks at the fundamental problems of the Early Universe, with the aid of data from Planck. The Cosmology Team at UCL is well placed for this project. The four applicants are very experienced in the fields of analyzing large galaxy surveys, designing surveys for weak lensing and for the Epoch of Re-ionization, and studying the early universe from the CMB, our best hope for uncovering fingerprints of the Physics operating at very high energy scales. The proposed Programme would allow us to maintain and enhance our leadership roles in international projects, and to train and inspire a young generation of Cosmologists.


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Partridge C. (2013) Weighing the local group in the presence of dark energy. in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Papadopoulos A. (2015) DES13S2cmm: the first superluminous supernova from the Dark Energy Survey in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Padmanabhan Thanu (2012) Commission 47: Cosmology in Transactions of the International Astronomical Union, Series A

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Oikonomou Foteini (2013) A search for correlation of ultra-high energy cosmic rays with IRAS-PSCz and 2MASS-6dF galaxies in Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics

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Newman J (2015) Spectroscopic needs for imaging dark energy experiments in Astroparticle Physics

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Naidoo K (2016) Could multiple voids explain the cosmic microwave background Cold Spot anomaly? in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters

Title Hosting artists in residence 
Description We have hosted artists in residence who were inspired by Dark Energy studies 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact - Artist Katie Paterson (on Leverhulme grant; PI: Lahav) presented her work in museums around the world - Artist Marie Kaus produced art work on dark energy, on display at UCL Observatory at Mill Hill 
Description This grant is finished but this section can be updated at a later date if details required.

The grant has produced about 116 refereed papers since its start in 2011. We listed all relevant publication until the present (2017), as some of the work that started then
has led to publications once the data came in.
This grant laid the foundations for preparations for the Dark Energy Survey, where we have played leadership roles (Ofer Lahav as co-chair of the Science Committee and chair of DES:UK,
Sarah Bridle as co-coordinator of the Weak Lensing working group and JochenWeller as co-coordinator of the Theory and Combined Probes working group).
Later Filipe Abdalla and Hiranya Peiris, appointed as lecturers in 2009, joined them in this effort and they have made important contributions to DES and other surveys.
The Dark Energy Survey has completed a significant fraction of its survey and has produced over 90 papers (as of early early 2017), 7 of them led by our group.
In addition, the grant provided support for theoretical studies in cosmology and other probes such as the CMB.
Exploitation Route Published in ArXiv (Green open access) and refereed journals

This grant was followed by the Consolidated Grants (2012-2015; 2015-2019).

This grant led to 3 ERC grants: Bridle (Starting Grant) Lahav (Advanced Grant), Peiris (Starting Grant).
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education

Description This grant is finished but this section can be updated at a later date if details required. - Media interviews and press releases - Artist Katie Paterson (on Leverhulme grant; PI: Lahav) presented her work in museums around the world , and artist Marie Kaus produced art work on dark energy, on display at UCL Observatory at Mill Hill
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

Description Advance ERC grant
Amount € 2,400,000 (EUR)
Funding ID FP7/291329 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2012 
End 04/2018
Title Optics and statistical methods 
Description - designing optical corrector for wide field multi object spectroscopy - developing statistics of cross correlations of imaging and spectroscopic surveys (Kirk et al.) - developing methods for selecting candidates of emission lines galaxies from imaging surveys 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact See above 
Description Achilleos JAXA Visiting Professorship 
Organisation Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency
Country Japan 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I worked as a JAXA visiting professor during Aug-Sept 2012, forming collaborations with some of the postdoctoral researchers there.
Collaborator Contribution JAXA provided me with accommodation, subsistence and facilities in order to pursue research and collaboration.
Impact The following refereed papers from the publications list acknowledge the JAXA Visiting Professorship: Achilleos et al 2015 (SSR); Achilleos et al 2014 (GRL); Tao et al 2014; Pilkington et al 2014.
Start Year 2012
Description press release and interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact a press release on DESI (which succeeded DESpec)
Interviewed in at article on DESI in Physics Today (Oct 2016)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014