AG - astrophysics and geophysics

AG.DEN - The Curious Case of Dark Energy

The aim of this lab is to learn about some key issues in modern cosmology, and understand how we infer the contents of the Universe from a combination of observations and theory.

In the last century, it was commonly believed that the expansion rate of the Universe was slowing down due to the presence of non-relativistic and relativistic matter. The fact that the Universe was, on the contrary, undergoing an accelerated expansion was discovered in 1998 by using distant type Ia supernovae as standard candles. The observation drastically changed our understanding of our Universe, its past, present and future, and we attribute it to a new component called Dark Energy, about which we know very little.

In this lab, we will use the original supernovae data to measure quantitatively the acceleration. Besides examining the data, we will investigate the theoretical framework behind dark energy and the study the challenges a small but non-zero cosmological constant poses to theorists.

Inst. f. Astrophysik, F04.126