[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A new and powerful probe of the origin and evolution of structures in the Universe has emerged and been actively developed over the last decade. In the coming decade, non-Gaussianity, i.e., the study of non-Gaussian contributions to the correlations of cosmological fluctuations, will become an important probe of both the early and the late Universe. Specifically, it will play a leading role in furthering our understanding of two fundamental aspects of cosmology and astrophysics: (i) the physics of the very early universe that created the primordial seeds for large-scale structures, and (ii) the subsequent growth of structures via gravitational instability and gas physics at later times. To date, observations of fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) and the Large-Scale Structure of the Universe (LSS) have focused largely on the Gaussian contribution as measured by the two-point correlations (or the power spectrum) of density fluctuations. However, an even greater amount of information is contained in non-Gaussianity and a large discovery space therefore still remains to be explored. Many observational probes can be used to measure non-Gaussianity, including CMB, LSS, gravitational lensing, Lyman-alpha forest, 21-cm fluctuations, and the abundance of rare objects such as clusters of galaxies and high-redshift galaxies. Not only does the study of non-Gaussianity maximize the science return from a plethora of present and future cosmological experiments and observations, but it also carries great potential for important discoveries in the coming decade.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Modern cosmology has sharpened questions posed for millennia about the origin of our cosmic habitat. The age-old questions have been transformed into two pressing issues primed for attack in the coming decade: How did the Universe begin? and What physical laws govern the Universe at the highest energies? The clearest window onto these questions is the pattern of polarization in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which is uniquely sensitive to primordial gravity waves. A detection of the special pattern produced by gravity waves would be not only an unprecedented discovery, but also a direct probe of physics at the earliest observable instants of our Universe. Experiments which map CMB polarization over the coming decade will lead us on our first steps towards answering these age-old questions.