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The LCDM cosmological model has established a predominant status for its widespread success in explaining cosmic structure formation and evolution. However, a number of discrepancies exist – to varying degrees – between the theory predictions and observations. These open up possibilities for alternative theories describing the fundamental properties of the Universe. Solutions to these open issues lie in our understanding of three main aspects, namely, the nature of dark matter, the state of dark energy and the (baryonic) physics of galaxy formation. In this regard, gravitational lensing, as predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago, has been shown to be a powerful astrophysical tool for their study. In this talk, I will review how gravitational lensing has been used to probe cosmic structure formation at all scales; in particular I will give three example applications in constraining the nature of dark matter (through strong lensing) and dark energy (through weak lensing), and the physics of galaxy formation (through a combination of lensing and stellar dynamics).
Dr. Dandan Xu obtained her degree in Astrophysics at Beijing University before a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at The University of Manchester, UK (2006-2009). She was a postdoctoral researcher at NAOC in 2010, then received a joint position, under the Alexander Von Humboldt Fellowship, between Bonn University (2011-2013) and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (2014-2015), Germany. Since 2015, she’s been scientific staff at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, Germany.