Type Ia supernovae & cosmic acceleration

Aldering, Greg
June 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 522 Issue 1, p75
Academic Journal
The current application of Type Ia supernovae to the determination of the expansion history of the universe is discussed. Work by two separate research teams—the Supernova Cosmology Project, and the High-Z Team—has shown that the most straightforward interpretation of observations of Type Ia supernova at ∼0.5 is that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. The form of this acceleration is consistent with a positive value of Einstein’s “cosmological constant.” Various forms of systematic error, both intrinsic and extrinsic to Type Ia supernovae have been proposed as alternative explanations. I review the constraints on systematic errors provided by current observations, and then discuss improvements which will be possible with a new sample of nearby supernovae and planned future observations of z>1 supernovae. Assuming that systematic errors are negligible, or can be converted into statistical errors, large homogeneous samples of very distant Type Ia supernovae hold the potential to determine several key cosmological parameters to an accuracy rivalling or exceeding that of planned CMB observations. A satellite concept designed to bring this promise to fruition is outlined. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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