“Final supernova results from Dark Energy Survey offer unique insights into expansion of universe”, UChicago News

January 18, 2024

For six years, the Dark Energy Survey catalogued the night sky with this telescope in Chile. Photo courtesy Dark Energy Survey

In 1998, astrophysicists discovered that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, attributed to a mysterious entity called dark energy that makes up about 70% of our universe.

This revolutionary discovery, thanks to observations of specific kinds of exploding stars called type Ia (pronounced “type one-A”) supernovae, was recognized with the Nobel Prize.

Now, 25 years after the initial discovery, the scientists working on the Dark Energy Survey have released the results of an analysis using the same technique to further probe the mysteries of dark energy and the expansion of the universe.

In the culmination of a decade’s worth of effort, the scientists analyzed an unprecedented sample of more than 1,500 supernovae classified using machine learning. They placed the strongest constraints on the expansion of the universe ever obtained.

The results are consistent with the now-standard cosmological model of a universe with an accelerated expansion, the scientists said.

Yet the results do not rule out a more complex theory that the density of dark energy in the universe could have varied over time.

“All of this is really unknown territory.”

–Prof. Rich Kron

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