IFPU hosts and promotes a multi-disciplinary research program dedicated to investigating the fundamental laws of Nature as emerging from Cosmological and Astrophysical observations. The focus is on theoretical and phenomenological studies, with connection to the experimental and observational programs in the field and with attention paid to the scientific and technological transfer. Research themes developed by the institute are mainly connected to the areas listed below. A list of research themes developed during the first cycle of the IFPU can be found here.

Astroparticle Physics

The aim is to explore particle physics through astrophysical phenomena and cosmology in regimes not accessible to the technology of particle colliders; at the same time, particle messengers can be exploited to study astrophysics and cosmology in regimes not accessible to traditional astronomical probes. Sample topics in this area include, e.g.: the investigation of particle dark matter candidates, the study of neutrino properties and neutrino astrophysics, as well as the open questions regarding cosmic rays.

Title Principal Investigator
Cosmic rays as a probe of new physicsRiccardo Munini
On the nature of dark matter

Astrophysical Probes of Fundamental Interactions

The Universe is a natural lab for testing environmental conditions and energy regimes that can be well beyond the reach of terrestrial experiments, allowing one to probe or challenge extreme hypotheses. Topics of research in this area are rather diverse, spanning, e.g., from tests of violations of Lorentz invariance, to tests of variation of fundamental constants, up to studies of the equation of state for dense matter in neutron stars.

Title Principal Investigator
Gamma-Ray Bursts as multi-messenger and fundamental physics probes Annalisa Celotti
The Intergalactic Medium as a Cosmological ProbeMatteo Viel

Early Universe

An extremely hot and dense Universe is predicted when extrapolating its current expansion back in time; relics from this early stage, such as the cosmic microwave background radiation and the primordial light elements, provide key evidence for the Standard Model of Cosmology. At the same time, several ingredients to model and understand the early Universe are missing in the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Open questions in this area include, e.g., what has driven inflation and how the Universe reheated after it, what mechanism generated the baryon asymmetry, whether sizeable primordial non-Gaussianity in density perturbations or a stochastic gravitational wave background exist and can shed light on particle physics close to the Planck scale.

Title Principal Investigator
Cosmic Microwave BackgroundNicoletta Krachmalnicoff
From the First Stars to the Epoch of ReionizationValentina D’Odorico
Phase transitions and early Universe simulationsToby Opferkuch
Inflation: Theoretical and Phenomenological AspectsPaolo Creminelli

Gravitational Wave Astrophysics

The recent detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO/Virgo collaborations has opened a new frontier for investigating the fundamental laws of Nature. Gravitational wave astronomy will allow for crucial tests of General Relativity, as well as of modified theories of gravity and quantum gravity effects. Compared to electromagnetic probes, it provides a complementary, and in some respect more powerful, diagnostic of compact objects. It may carry an imprint of physics beyond the Standard Model of Particle Physics, e.g., potentially revealing the existence of new ultra-light fields or the occurrence of first-order phase transitions in the early Universe. It is a new window for cosmology and cosmography.

Title Principal Investigator
Gravitational Wave Astronomy: A Paradigm-Shifting Window into the CosmosEnrico Barausse

Structures in the Universe and Emergent Phenomena

The formation of cosmic structures reflects the fundamental constituents of the Universe and the underlying laws of physics governing its evolution. Key inquiries include discerning the impact of dynamic Dark Energy and modifications of gravity on cosmic structure growth, detecting signs of primordial non-Gaussianity in structure formation seeds, and investigating how structures at various scales unveil properties of dark matter particles. Moreover, we explore the intricate relationship between cosmic structure formation and the potential emergence of life-sustaining environments. The diverse array of physical processes, length scales, and time scales involved adds complexity to this investigation.

Title Principal Investigator
Large-Scale StructureEmiliano Sefusatti
Galaxies in their cosmic webGabriella De Lucia
Numerical Simulations of the Large-Scale StructurePierluigi Monaco
The emergence of complexity in the Universe: from galaxies to planets and life.

Theory & Phenomenology of Gravity

General relativity is among the most successful modern physical theories. On the other hand, in the last decades a number of theoretical problems as well as observational facts have led to a renewed interest in the phenomenology of classical extensions of Einstein’s theory as well as in quantum gravity models. Topics of research in this area include studying, e.g.: alternative theories of gravity; theoretical approaches to quantum gravity and their phenomenological implications; black holes and compact objects physics within and beyond general relativity; analogue models of gravity.

Title Principal Investigator
Fields on Curved Backgrounds and their Analogue ModelsStefano Ansoldi
Quantum Gravity Phenomenology: Probing the Fundamental Nature of SpacetimeStefano Liberati
Flat Holography and Gravitational WavesDaniele Pranzetti