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Duke Physics Colloquium: From Supernovae to Dark Energy: Current Results and a Recipe for Cosmological Progress

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Monday, February 19, 2018
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4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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David Rubin (Space Telescope Science Institute)
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Duke Physics Colloquium

"From Supernovae to Dark Energy: Current Results and a Recipe for Cosmological Progress" - Twenty years ago, cosmologists discovered that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. This discovery has challenged our understanding of the universe, revealing either an unknown additional component in the universe, termed "dark energy," or the need to modify General Relativity. This discovery was based on observations of several dozen Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia). SNe Ia have standardizable luminosities, allowing reliable distance measurements. Now that we have observations of more than a thousand SNe Ia, we have begun to place much more stringent constraints on the nature of dark energy. However, some combinations of cosmological probes now reveal apparent inconsistencies between measurements of the local and high-redshift universe, possibly indicating new characteristics of the accelerating expansion or systematic problems when working at such high precision. SNe Ia can help in resolving these inconsistencies, but doing so requires identifying and addressing some of the major limitations currently facing SN cosmology. I will discuss my work on powerful new solutions to these major challenges, which include both making new observations with the Hubble Space Telescope and large ground-based telescopes and a novel hierarchical Bayesian analysis of heterogeneous datasets... See website for more info. Faculty host: Christopher Walter

Contact: Cristin Paul