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Model Selection and Parameter Estimation in Neutrino Cosmology and High Energy Astrophysics Around the Galactic Center


Understanding the particle nature of dark matter and determining the properties of neutrinos remain two of the most important questions within the physics community. Both problems lie within the intersection between astrophysics and particle physics, a fact which gives rise to a rich set of independent and complementary approaches to making progress on both fronts. This thesis presents three works that attempt to construct models and constrain the properties of these particles using empirical data from a large host of astronomical observations. The first work uses observations from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope’s Large Area Telescope (Fermi LAT) to construct empirical models of the diffuse gamma-ray background in the Galactic Center (GC). A new template associated with cosmic rays interacting with molecular gas is detected with high significance. Using this new template along with other known sources of gamma-ray emission in the GC, I find that the previously detected extended gamma-ray excess is still detected for all permutations of the background model, although its properties vary significantly within the observed range of models. The second work presents a detection of a new source of gamma-ray emission in the GC that traces the morphology of infrared starlight, again using observations from the Fermi LAT. I argue that this emission is likely due to the same source of cosmic rays responsible for producing the emission associated with the molecular gas template in the previous work, and further make the case that this population of cosmic rays could be produced by the same source responsible for the GC excess. The last work explores how derived neutrino parameter constraints depend on the assumed form of the primordial power spectrum, using constraints derived from a host of cosmological data sets, including cosmic microwave background, baryon acoustic oscillation, power spectrum, cluster counts, and hubble constant measurements. I find that for a model independent reconstruction of the primordial power spectrum, neutrino parameter constraints are robust. In addition, certain data sets suggest evidence for non-standard cosmological parameters, though this could also be attributed to systematics within the data.

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