PhD position: Gravitational waves illuminate the Higgs mechanism

Updated: 1 day ago

Originating from the time when the Universe was opaque for light, gravitational waves carry information about fundamental physics from the early Universe well above 1 eV energies. Combined with information from the Large Hadron Collider, this enables us to begin to piece together the thermal history of the early Universe at those energies. Gravitational waves are crucial in this since they carry imprints of thermodynamic phase transitions that played an important role in the early Universe.

The mechanism of spontaneous electroweak symmetry breaking, by which all known elementary particles acquire mass, was accompanied by a thermal phase transition in the early Universe. Fundamental fields acquiring a vacuum expectation value, the breakdown of a unified force into the known four forces, and condensing hidden sectors may have caused a succession of phase transitions. Gravitational waves can tell us whether any of these phase transitions were a first order transition.

The aim of this project is to calculate gravitational wave amplitudes and frequencies in well motivated new physics theories that lead to a first order phase transition in the early Universe. We constrain the parameter space of these theories using various particle experiments and astrophysical observation and check whether their gravitational wave signals are in reach of future gravitational wave detectors such as eLISA, DECIGO, BBO, or aLIGO. This project requires a solid background in particle physics, cosmology and excellent analytical and/or numerical skills.

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