Erik M. Leitch

Senior Technical Staff
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
MS 168-314
4800 Oak Grove Dr.
Pasadena CA 91109

Office phone: (818) 393-2308

Visiting Faculty
California Institute of Technology
Dept. of Astronomy & Astrophysics, MS 105-24
1200 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena CA 91125

Office phone: (626) 395-5927

The study of cosmology and the formation of structure in the high-redshift universe comprise my chief research interests. My work has focused on observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the faint afterglow of the Big Bang. These observations have the potential to reveal the composition and dynamics of the universe, and serve as a direct test of its inflationary origins.

In recent years, this work has led to the detection of harmonic peak structure in the CMB power spectrum — a fundamental prediction of the inflationary paradigm — and most recently to the detection of CMB polarization, whose presence is a model-independent prediction of plasma physics at decoupling, and therefore a vindication of the theoretical framework underlying the inference of cosmological information from the CMB.

In addition to studies of the intrinsic properties of the CMB, my work centers on experiments to detect galaxy clusters through the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect (SZE). These observations will constrain the physics of dark energy with cluster abundances determined from blind surveys of the SZE, as well as probe the detailed physics of galaxy clusters.