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Weighing the Dark: Cosmological Applications of Gravitational Lensing

Promotor: K. Kuijken, Co-Promotor: H. Hoekstra

F. Köhlinger
28 september 2016
Thesis in Leiden Repository

According to Einstein's theory of general relativity the light of an object is deflected by a mass in its foreground. The deflections can be very weak or so strong that they are visible by eye yielding strangely distorted arcs or even multiple images of the same source. Measurements of strong or weak lensing let us infer the total mass of the light-deflecting object which is an important cosmological observable. In this thesis we employ gravitational lensing to measure key cosmological observables, such as dark matter and dark energy. Instead of observing the effects of gravitational lensing around single galaxies or galaxy clusters, the Universe itself can be used as a lens: light travelling to us through the cosmic large-scale structure is also weakly lensed by it. Measuring this effect at different cosmic times allows us to infer the evolution of structure in the cosmic web. Hence, we can study how that is affected by dark energy or massive neutrinos. A key result of this thesis is that we find a lower amplitude for the clustering of matter at fixed matter density than that inferred from the most recent measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation by the Planck satellite.

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