The vicissitudes of the cold dark matter model of cosmogony

This year's Biermann lecturer is an old friend: Prof. Carlos Frenk has worked closely with scientists at the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics for almost two decades, trying to understand the evolution of cosmic structure through ever more intricate modelling and simulations, often on large super-computers. In his series of lectures he will talk about various aspects of this programme to explore galaxy formation and the overall large-scale structure of our universe. In addition, he will discuss challenges to the standard model of cosmology that he helped to establish in the 1980s.

Fig. 1: Professor Carlos Frenk (Durham University)
Image Credit: University of Durham

Following a well-established tradition, this year the MPA invites Prof. Carlos Frenk from Durham University to spend the month of June in the Munich area as Biermann lecturer. Professor Frenk is currently director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University, where his group develops cosmological models and simulations. He is also co-Principal Investigator of the Virgo Consortium, which was founded in 1994 and is perhaps best known for the Millennium Simulation, carried out in Garching and first published in 2005. At the time, this N-body simulation of the dark matter distribution was the largest ever carried out, and was particularly notable because it included techniques which allowed the development of the galaxy population to be followed in detail, in addition to tracking the growth of structure in the dark matter.

Such cosmological simulations are based on the standard cold dark matter model of cosmic structure formation, which was established by the astronomical "Gang of Four": In a series of five landmark papers from 1985 to 1988, Marc Davis, George Efstathiou, Carlos Frenk, and Simon White showed that observations of galaxies, clusters, filaments, and voids were consistent with a simulated universe that had evolved under the dominant gravitational influence of cold dark matter. In 2011, the four researchers received the Gruber Cosmology Prize for this discovery and for their pioneering use of numerical simulations. In addition to this latest award, Carlos Frenk has received a number of other prizes and distinctions, such as Hoyle Medal of the Institute of Physics, the George Darwin Prize of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Daniel Chalonge medal from the Observatoire de Paris.

The Biermann lecture series, which started in 1997, aims to stimulate scientific activity across the Munich astronomical community and has been very successful in previous years. World-class scientists working on topics in theoretical and computational astrophysics are invited to spend one month in Garching, to give a series of three lectures and to interact with colleagues from the various Munich/Garching institutes.

Biermann lectures 2013 by Professor Carlos Frenk (Durham University)

"The vicissitudes of the cold dark matter model of cosmogony"

Tuesday, June 4: "Galaxy formation models: myth and reality"

Tuesday, June 18: "The cosmic large-scale structure"

Wednesday, June 19: "Cosmology in our backyard: challenges to the standard model"

All lectures will start at 15:30 in the large MPA seminar room E.0.11 and will be preceded by tea, coffee and cookies at 15:15.