One of the biggest mysteries in contemporary cosmology is the particle nature of dark matter (DM). DM is assumed to be cold, non-dissipative, and only interacts via gravity in the standard cosmological model. Structure formation based in this paradigm has had great success in explaining and predicting a wide variety of observables in our universe. However, due to theoretical and observational constraints, it has not been tested on small (sub-galactic) scales.
In my research, I explore the statistical measurement of DM substructure using strong gravitational lensing. The idea is that while a sizable (smooth) DM halo is responsible for most of the lensing contribution, additional, smaller halos can perturb the lightrays in a distinctive way. Thus, it is possible to infer the presence of additional DM clumps by comparing the observed images to those produced by the main halo alone, shedding light into how the structure of our universe is formed and the nature of DM.
Mailing address: Department of Physics Broida Hall University of California Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9530