2nd December 2021 – London Cosmology Discussion Meeting

(Follow links for relevant talk slides)

2.05 – 2.35 Pedro Fernandes (QMUL)
Title: The 4D Einstein-Gauss-Bonnet theory of gravity, and PBH remnants as a dark matter candidate

In this talk, I will review the topic of 4D Einstein-Gauss-Bonnet gravity, which has been the subject of considerable interest over the past two years. I then move on to consider the gravitational physics of well-defined theories that enact it, showing that the final state of evaporation of black holes is a remnant with a finite size determined by the Gauss-Bonnet coupling constant. Finally, I outline a scenario in which remnants of this kind from primordial black holes could act as dark matter.

2.40 – 3.10 Eloy De Jong (KCL)
Title: Primordial black hole formation with full numerical relativity.

I will talk about studying the formation of black holes from subhorizon and superhorizon perturbations in a matter dominated universe with 3+1D numerical relativity simulations. We find that there are two primary mechanisms of formation depending on the initial perturbation’s mass and geometry — via direct collapse of the initial overdensity and via post-collapse accretion of the ambient dark matter. In both cases, the duration of the formation the process is around a Hubble time, and the initial mass of the black hole is $M_{BH}∼10^{−2}H^{−1}M_{Pl}$. Post formation, we find that the PBH undergoes rapid mass growth beyond the self-similar limit $M_{BH}\propto H^{−1}$, at least initially. We argue that this implies that most of the final mass of the PBH is accreted from its ambient surroundings post formation.

3.25 – 3.55 Matthew Davies (QMUL)
Title: A Primordial Power Spectrum Toolkit for PBHs in Inflationary Scenarios

The primordial power spectrum contains a wealth of information on the dynamics of the early universe during inflation. Of particular interest are power spectra with a large peak, since these are capable of producing both primordial black holes (PBHs) and scalar induced gravitational waves (SIGWs). In this talk I present work that has been done to describe some of the key features of these power spectra, such as their tilt and non-Gaussianity. Modelling inflation as a series of “phases” characterised by distinct values of the second slow-roll parameter, we find that the important features of the spectrum can be inferred from the evolution of this parameter. This provides a simple toolkit in which power spectra with desired features can be constructed.

4.00 – 4.30 Andreas Mantziris (ICL)
Title: Cosmological implications of electroweak vacuum instability: constraints on the Higgs curvature coupling from inflation

The current experimentally measured parameters of the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics suggest that our Universe lies in a metastable electroweak vacuum, where the Higgs field could decay to a lower vacuum state with catastrophic consequences. Our observations dictate that such an event has not happened yet, despite the many different mechanisms that could have triggered it thoughout our cosmological history. Via this observation, we can establish a promising link between cosmology and particle physics to constrain important parameters of our fundamental theories. Exploring the possibility of vacuum decay during inflation, we can obtain robust bounds on the last unknown renormalisable SM parameter $\xi$, which couples the Higgs field with space-time curvature. In our study, we considered three inflationary models, quadratic and quartic chaotic inflation, and Starobinsky-like power-law inflation, and accounted for the time-dependence of the Hubble rate both in the geometry of our past light-cone and in the Higgs effective potential, which is approximated with three-loop renormalisation group improvement supplemented with one-loop curvature corrections. 

25th February 2021 – London Cosmology Discussion Meeting

For this UCL-organized Meeting we asked two speakers, Prof. Alan Heavens (Imperial – slides) and Prof. John Ellis (King’s), to each give us a thought-provoking summary of perspectives on how to break the standard model of cosmology (from the Astrophysics and HEP viewpoints, respectively) in the next 10-20 years. Each talk was followed by 10 minutes of small-group discussion in randomly assigned breakout rooms, and the session drew to a close with a 10-minute full-group discussion. In this discussion, the group was asked two questions: “What is more likely to break LCDM (Astro or HEP)?” and “What’s your best bet on what will break it?”. The answers to these surveys can be found below, along with slides for the two talks.


  • 15:30 – 15:35: Welcome + Formalities
  • 15:35 – 16:05: Prof. Alan Heavens
  • 16:05 – 16:15: Breakout room discussion
  • 16:15 – 16:20: Summary of breakout room discussions
  • 16:20 – 16:50: Prof. John Ellis
  • 16:50 – 17:00: Breakout room discussion
  • 17:00 – 17:05: Summary of breakout room discussions
  • 17:05 – 17:15: Final discussion and Summary


21st January 2021 – London Cosmology Discussion Meeting

At this discussion meeting, KCL conducted a poll of attendees asking for their opinion on ‘What is Dark Matter Really?’. The result of the poll is below!

in the browser14.00–14.30: James Alvey (KCL) – Degeneracy, Dwarfs, and (Fermionic) Dark Matter
14.30–15.00: Daniel Thomas (QMUL) – Coldness of dark matter: theoretical convenience or observational fact?

15.00–15.40: Discussion / coffee break

15.40–16.10: Corentin Cadiou (UCL) – Angular momentum evolution can be predicted from cosmological initial conditions
16.10–16.40: Nashwan Sabti (KCL) – What BBN can tell us about thermal dark sectors

10th December 2020 – London Cosmology Discussion Meeting

2:20pm – 2:30pm Joining meeting
2:30pm – 2:50pm Brainstorming on future challenges
2:50pm – 3:30pm Andrew Jaffe: “Anisotropies of the gravitational wave

3:30pm – 3:50pm Coffee break
3:50pm – 4:30pm Alexander Jenkins: “Modelling and measuring the
astrophysical GW background”

4:30pm – 5:10pm Katarina Martinovic: “Separating SGWB Sources”
5:10pm – 5:30pm Further discussion

19th November 2020 – London Cosmology Discussion Meeting

2:30pm-2:40pm Joining meeting
2:40pm-3:05pm Ze Fonseca (QMUL), Line Intensity Mapping: A “Novel” window to the cosmic web
3:15pm-3:40pm Steve Cunnington (QMUL), Introducing 21cm Intensity Mapping and its potential to unlock the largest scales
3:50pm-4:15pm Ian Hothi (ICL), Comparing Foreground Removal Techniques for Recovery of the LOFAR-EoR 21cm Power Spectrum
4:15pm-4:30pm Questions, and discussion re: format of following meetings

27th February 2020 – London Cosmology Discussion Meeting

14.00–14.35: Eugene Lim – “Numerical Relativity of Weird Stuff”
14.35–15.10: Constantina Nicolaou“The Impact of Peculiar Velocities on the Calculation of H_0 from Gravitational Waves”
15.10–15.50: Coffee break
15.50–16.25: Alex Jenkins“Probing the Early and Late Universe with the Gravitational-Wave Background”
16.25–17.00: Arianna Renzini“High Angular Resolution Gravitational-Wave Astronomy”

23rd January 2020 – London Cosmology Discussion Meeting

Theme: “Neutrinos in Cosmology”
14.00–14.35: Miguel Escudero – Neutrino Cosmology in 2020: Where do we stand?
14.35–15.10: Constance Mahony – Target Neutrino Mass Precision for Determining the Neutrino Hierarchy
15.10–15.50: Coffee break
15.50–16.25: James Alvey – Big Bang Nucleosynthesis with Light Thermal Dark Sectors
16.25–17.00: Sophie King – From T2K to Hyper-K: A new era of precision in neutrino physics

5th December 2019 – London Cosmology Discussion Meeting

Theme: "Forward modelling in cosmology".
14:00-14:25 (20+5') Stephen Feeney (UCL) - TBA
14:25-14:50 (20+5') Cora Uhlemann (U. Cambridge/Newcastle U.) - Going forward with counts-in-cells
14:50-15:15 (20+5') Krishna Naidoo (UCL) - Beyond two-point statistics: using the minimum spanning tree for cosmology on the next generation of galaxy surveys
15:15-15:50 Coffee break
15:50-16:15 (20+5') Natalia Porqueres (IC) - Inferring the dynamical growth of structures at high-redshift from the Lyman-alpha forest
16:15-16:40 (20+5') Phill Bull (QMUL) - Forward modelling in the context of high dynamic range 21cm experiments
16:40-17:00 Discussion session

7th June 2019 – London Cosmology Discussion Meeting

Theme: Baryons in Cosmology

14:00-14:30: Catherine Watkinson (Imperial) – Cosmology from 21cm maps
14:30-15:00: Nicolas Laporte (UCL P&A) – The onset of star formation 250 million years after the Big Bang
15:00-15:30: Coffee break
15:30-16:00: Bernard Carr (Queen Mary) – Primordial Black Holes and the role of MACHOs in as dark matter
16:00-17:00: Discussion