Dark Energy

Four possible fates of the universe, depending upon its density. From left to right: An overdense universe collapses upon itself; a critical density universe stays largely the same after inflation; an underdense universe keeps expanding at a steady rate; and finally, at far right, is the universe we apparently live in, which is undergoing an accelerating expansion due to a mysterious force called dark energy. (Image Credit: NASA)

Dark energy is a baffling and pervasive force accelerating the expansion of the universe. Observations originally in 1929 of distant galaxies moving away from us revealed that the cosmos is expanding. Because of the gravitational attraction between matter, however, researchers expected to find that this expansion has slowed over the universe's history. Instead, surprising observations first made in 1998 demonstrated that the universe previously grew at a slower pace. Subsequent data has shown that dark energy should comprise about 68 percent of the universe, with dark matter accounting for another 27 percent and the normal matter visible to us only five percent. Some theories for dark energy suggest it is a property of space itself, a sort of "vacuum energy," wherein space is not truly empty, but is instead a fizzing sea of energy. As the universe expands, more space is created and thus additional dark energy, leading to the observed accelerating expansion. Other theories point to new forces of nature or suggest that the best current explanation for gravity, Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, is fundamentally wrong. Astrophysicists are making detailed maps of the cosmos' changes over time to attempt to learn more about dark energy's properties.

Spotlight Live: Searching for Alien Life with a "Super-Hubble" Space Telescope (Transcript)

Nov 05, 2015
Milky Way

On October 6, The Kavli Foundation hosted a Google+ Hangout to learn more about proposed High Definition Space Telescope, a kind of "Super Hubble" that could launch in the 2030s. We spoke with two of the proponents: Julianne Dalcanton of the University of Washington and Marc Postman of the Space Telescope Science Institute. This is a transcript of that discussion.

Spotlight Live: Searching for Alien Life with a "Super-Hubble" Space Telescope

Sep 17, 2015
Schematic of HDST

On October 6, The Kavli Foundation hosted a Google+ Hangout to learn more about proposed High Definition Space Telescope, a kind of "Super Hubble" that could launch in the 2030s. We spoke to Julianne Dalcanton of the University of Washington, who co-chaired the committee that put forward the proposal, as well as committee member Marc Postman of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Delving Into the 'Dark Universe' with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

May 27, 2015
An illustration of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)

Two astrophysicists and a theoretical physicist discuss how the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will probe the nature of dark matter and dark energy by taking an unprecedentedly enormous scan of the sky.

Google Hangout: NSF Physics Frontiers Centers - The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics

Mar 04, 2015

The NSF Physics Division hosted a live hour-long Google Hangout with Michael S. Turner, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP). Turner will be joined by other members of KICP to talk about the exciting science going on at the institute including research on the cosmic microwave background and dark matter.

Dark Energy Projects Up and Running

Aug 09, 2013

The race to discover the nature of dark energy has begun. An update to accompany the roundtable discussion, "Mapping the Expansion of the Universe."

Spotlight Live: Dark Energy – On the Brink of Discovery?

Aug 08, 2013

On August 22, three leading members of the new dark energy collaboration answered your questions about the dark energy and the expansion of the universe.

Revealing Dark Energy's Hold on the Universe

Aug 08, 2013
Artist's conception of dark energy, gravity

A new collaboration aims to learn how dark energy is driving the accelerated expansion of the universe.

Are We Closing In On Dark Matter?

Dec 05, 2012

As the search for dark matter intensifies, a colloquium brought together cosmologists, particle physicists and observational astrophysicists --- three fields now united in the hunt to determine what is dark matter.

KICP: Leading the Quest to Crack Cosmological Mysteries

Feb 23, 2012

During its first decade as a Physics Frontier Center, the Kavli Institute helped to establish the current cosmological paradigm. 

A Roundtable Discussion with the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe

Feb 03, 2012
Hitoshi Murayama

At the newest Kavli Institute, solving the biggest mysteries of the cosmos is a "multilingual" enterprise where the research in mathematics, physics and astronomy combine to create a more complete understanding of the universe. A roundtable discussion with the Kavli IPMU's director and deputy directors.

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