Institute of Astronomy

The Past, Present, and Future of Supernova Cosmology

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Robert Kirshner, Harvard21 October 2010Institute of Astronomy Colloquia


Supernovae have been developed into a powerful tool for cosmological
distance measurements. In the (recent) past, supernovae showed that we live
in an accelerating universe. In the present supernovae are a key element in
constraining the properties of dark energy. While the present data are
consistent with a cosmological constant, today's constraints are not very
rigorous. As a community, we are beginning to learn where the systematic
problems arise in tightening those constraints and improving our knowledge.
I'll review some of the problems we have encountered with dust absorption
and I will show some promising developments using observations in the
near-infrared that may mitigate these difficulties. The future will not be
as easy as the past, but the conclusion of programs like ESSENCE, Supernova
Legacy Survey and the Sloan Supernova Survey plus the Palomar Transient
Factory, Pan-STARRS, the Dark Energy Survey, and WFIRST all promise real
progress in the years ahead.


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