Supernova Cosmology Project

The Supernova Cosmology Project is one of two research teams that determined the likelihood of an accelerating universe and therefore a positive cosmological constant, using data from the redshift of Type Ia supernovae.[1] The project is headed by Saul Perlmutter at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, with members from Australia, Chile, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

This discovery was named "Breakthrough of the Year for 1998" by Science Magazine[2] and, along with the High-z Supernova Search Team, the project team won the 2007 Gruber Prize in Cosmology[3] and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.[4] In 2011, Perlmutter was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for this work, alongside Adam Riess and Brian P. Schmidt from the High-z team.[5]

Project Members

The team members are:[4][6]


  1. ^ Goldhaber, Gerson (2009). "The Acceleration of the Expansion of the Universe: A Brief Early History of the Supernova Cosmology Project (SCP)". AIP Conference Proceedings. 1166: 53. arXiv:0907.3526. Bibcode:2009AIPC.1166...53G. doi:10.1063/1.3232196.
  2. ^ Cosmic Motion Revealed Science 282(5397), 2156-2157
  3. ^ Gruber Foundation Prize in Cosmology Press Release
  4. ^ a b Recipients Of The 2015 Breakthrough Prizes In Fundamental Physics And Life Sciences Announced
  5. ^ "Nobel physics prize honours accelerating Universe find". BBC News. 2011-10-04.
  6. ^ Gruber Foundation: Saul Perlmutter & the Supernova Cosmology Project

External links

Accelerating expansion of the universe

The accelerating expansion of the universe is the observation that the expansion of the universe is such that the velocity at which a distant galaxy is receding from the observer is continuously increasing with time.The accelerated expansion was discovered during 1998, by two independent projects, the Supernova Cosmology Project and the High-Z Supernova Search Team, which both used distant type Ia supernovae to measure the acceleration. The idea was that as type 1a supernovae have almost the same intrinsic brightness (a standard candle), and since objects that are further away appear dimmer, we can use the observed brightness of these supernovae to measure the distance to them. The distance can then be compared to the supernovae's cosmological redshift, which measures how much the universe has expanded since the supernova occurred. The unexpected result was that objects in the universe are moving away from one another at an accelerated rate. Cosmologists at the time expected that recession velocity would always be decelerating, due to the gravitational attraction of the matter in the universe. Three members of these two groups have subsequently been awarded Nobel Prizes for their discovery. Confirmatory evidence has been found in baryon acoustic oscillations, and in analyses of the clustering of galaxies.

The accelerated expansion of the universe is thought to have begun since the universe entered its dark-energy-dominated era roughly 5 billion years ago.

Within the framework of general relativity, an accelerated expansion can be accounted for by a positive value of the cosmological constant Λ, equivalent to the presence of a positive vacuum energy, dubbed "dark energy". While there are alternative possible explanations, the description assuming dark energy (positive Λ) is used in the current standard model of cosmology, which also includes cold dark matter (CDM) and is known as the Lambda-CDM model.

Adam Riess

Adam Guy Riess (born December 16, 1969) is an American astrophysicist and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute and is known for his research in using supernovae as cosmological probes. Riess shared both the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Saul Perlmutter and Brian P. Schmidt for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

Bradley Schaefer

Bradley Elliott Schaefer is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Louisiana State University. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983.

Brian Schmidt

Brian Paul Schmidt (born 24 February 1967) is the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU). He was previously a Distinguished Professor, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and astrophysicist at the University's Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. He is known for his research in using supernovae as cosmological probes. He currently holds an Australia Research Council Federation Fellowship and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2012. Schmidt shared both the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, making him the only Montana-born Nobel laureate.

Carlton R. Pennypacker

Carlton R. Pennypacker is an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and is the principal investigator for the Hands On Universe project.

Dr. Pennypacker has been motivated by the power and potential of student and scientist partnerships when teachers and students started discovering supernovae in the Hands On Universe project. Some of his discoveries have been featured in the news media He was awarded the Prix Jules Janssen of the French Astronomical Society in 2010.

Dr. Pennypacker has spent much of his career as a research astrophysicist, receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1978. His principal research was the studying of supernovae and the building of techniques for their automated discovery. With Rich Muller, he co-founded the Berkeley Supernova Search, which later became the Supernova Cosmology Project. He shared the 2007 Gruber Prize in Cosmology and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the Supernova Cosmology Project's discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

Cosmological constant

In cosmology, the cosmological constant (usually denoted by the Greek capital letter lambda: Λ) is the energy density of space, or vacuum energy, that arises in Albert Einstein's field equations of general relativity. It is closely associated to the concepts of dark energy and quintessence.Einstein originally introduced the concept in 1917 to counterbalance the effects of gravity and achieve a static universe, a notion which was the accepted view at the time. Einstein abandoned the concept in 1931 after Hubble's discovery of the expanding universe. From the 1930s until the late 1990s, most physicists assumed the cosmological constant to be equal to zero. That changed with the surprising discovery in 1998 that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, implying the possibility of a positive nonzero value for the cosmological constant.Since the 1990s, studies have shown that around 68% of the mass–energy density of the universe can be attributed to so-called dark energy. The cosmological constant Λ is the simplest possible explanation for dark energy, and is used in the current standard model of cosmology known as the ΛCDM model. While dark energy is poorly understood at a fundamental level, the main required properties of dark energy are that it functions as a type of anti-gravity, it dilutes much more slowly than matter as the universe expands, and it clusters much more weakly than matter, or perhaps not at all.According to quantum field theory (QFT) which underlies modern particle physics, empty space is defined by the vacuum state which is a collection of quantum fields. All these quantum fields exhibit fluctuations in their ground state (lowest energy density) arising from the zero-point energy present everywhere in space. These zero-point fluctuations should act as a contribution to the cosmological constant Λ, but when calculations are performed these fluctuations give rise to an enormous vacuum energy. The discrepancy between theorized vacuum energy from QFT and observed vacuum energy from cosmology is a source of major contention, with the values predicted exceeding observation by some 120 orders of magnitude, a discrepancy that has been called "the worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics!". This issue is called the cosmological constant problem and it is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in science with many physicists believing that "the vacuum holds the key to a full understanding of nature".

Gerson Goldhaber

Gerson Goldhaber (February 20, 1924 – July 19, 2010) was a German-born American particle physicist and astrophysicist. He was one of the discoverers of the J/ψ meson which confirmed the existence of the charm quark. He worked at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with the Supernova Cosmology Project, and was a professor of physics emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley as well as a professor at Berkeley's graduate school in astrophysics.

Gregory Scott Aldering

Gregory Scott Aldering (born 1960), also known simply as Greg Aldering is an American astronomer, discoverer of minor planets and supernovae, currently with the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.As a high school student in Bridgeport, Michigan, he was an avid amateur astronomer and showed a particular aptitude for scientific studies in his studies of variable stars. Currently, his interests center on cosmology, including measurement of the cosmological parameters, the exploration of the nature of the "dark energy" and the large-scale distribution of matter in the universe. His current cosmological studies focus on the use of Type Ia supernovae as tools for determining the cosmological parameters, through his participation in the Supernova Cosmology Project. He is now the primary investigator of the Nearby Supernova Factory experiment, and is also a co-investigator on the Supernova/Acceleration Probe.While an undergraduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1979–1983), he discovered four asteroids at Kitt Peak National Observatory (695), as credited by the Minor Planet Center. He has so far classified some 266 supernovae, and is one of the co-discoverers of SN 2002bk.

The minor main-belt asteroid 26533 Aldering was named in his honor.

Gruber Prize in Cosmology

The Gruber Prize in Cosmology, established in 2000, is one of three international awards worth US$500,000 made by the Gruber Foundation, a non-profit organization based at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Since 2001, the Gruber Prize in Cosmology has been co-sponsored by the International Astronomical Union.

Recipients are selected by a panel from nominations that are received from around the world.

The Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize honors a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical or conceptual discoveries leading to a fundamental advances in the field.

Heidi Jo Newberg

Heidi Jo Newberg (née Marvin) is an American astrophysicist known for her work in understanding the structure of our Milky Way galaxy. Among her team's findings are that the Milky Way is cannibalizing stars from smaller galaxies and that the Milky Way is larger and has more ripples than was previously understood. She is a founding participant in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration (SEGUE), and is a leader of the astrophysical MilkyWay@home distributed computing project team. She is a Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, USA and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

High-Z Supernova Search Team

The High-Z Supernova Search Team was an international cosmology collaboration which used Type Ia supernovae to chart the expansion of the universe. The team was formed in 1994 by Brian P. Schmidt, then a post-doctoral research associate at Harvard University, and Nicholas B. Suntzeff, a staff astronomer at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. The original team first proposed for the research on September 29, 1994 in a proposal called A Pilot Project to Search for Distant Type Ia Supernova to the CTIO Inter-American Observatory. The original team as co-listed on the first observing proposal was: Nicholas Suntzeff (PI); Brian Schmidt (Co-I); (other Co-Is) R. Chris Smith, Robert Schommer, Mark M. Phillips, Mario Hamuy, Roberto Aviles, Jose Maza, Adam Riess, Robert Kirshner, Jason Spiromilio, and Bruno Leibundgut. The original project was awarded four nights of telescope time on the CTIO Victor M. Blanco Telescope on the nights of February 25, 1995, and March 6, 24, and 29, 1995. The pilot project led to the discovery of supernova SN1995Y. In 1995, the HZT elected Brian P. Schmidt of the Mount Stromlo Observatory which is part of the Australian National University to manage the team.

The team expanded to roughly 20 astronomers located in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Chile. They used the Victor M. Blanco telescope to discover Type Ia supernovae out to redshifts of z = 0.9. The discoveries were verified with spectra taken mostly from the telescopes of the Keck Observatory, and the European Southern Observatory.

In a 1998 study led by Adam Riess, the High-Z Team became the first to publish evidence that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating (Riess et al. 1998, AJ, 116, 1009, submitted March 13, 1998, accepted May 1998). The team later spawned Project ESSENCE led by Christopher Stubbs of Harvard University and the Higher-Z Team led by Adam Riess of Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute.

In 2011, Riess and Schmidt, along with Saul Perlmutter of the Supernova Cosmology Project, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for this work.

Nearby Supernova Factory

The Nearby Supernova Factory (SNfactory) is a collaborative experiment led by Greg Aldering, designed to collect data on more Type Ia supernovae than have ever been studied in a single project before, and by studying them, to increase understanding of the expanding universe and "Dark Energy."

The project began as an outgrowth of the Supernova Cosmology Project at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, but while the SCP focused on supernovae with redshifts of approximately 1.2, corresponding to a distance of 8.7 billion light years, SNfactory searches for nearby supernovae with redshifts of 0.03 to 0.08, corresponding to a distance of only 400 million to 1.1 billion light years.

SNfactory uses a highly automated "pipeline" in which survey images from NASA's Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking project are processed by a supercomputing cluster to find promising candidates, which are then observed using the project's Supernova Integral Field Spectrograph (SNIFS) on the University of Hawaii 88-inch (2.2 m) telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Results from the project will also be used in refining the planned Supernova/Acceleration Probe.

Pilar Ruiz-Lapuente

Pilar Ruiz-Lapuente (born 1964, Barcelona) is an astrophysicist working as a professor at the University of Barcelona. Her work has included research on type Ia supernovae. In 2004, she led the team that searched for the companion star to the white dwarf that became supernova SN 1572, observed by Tycho Brahe, among others. Ruiz-Lapuente's research on supernovae contributed to the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Richard A. Muller

Richard A. Muller (born January 6, 1944) is an American physicist and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a faculty senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Most recently, in early 2010, Muller and his daughter Elizabeth founded the group Berkeley Earth, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit aimed at addressing some of the major concerns of the climate change skeptics, in particular the global surface temperature record.

SCP 06F6

SCP 06F6 is (or was) an astronomical object of unknown type, discovered on 21 February 2006 in the constellation Boötes

during a survey of galaxy cluster CL 1432.5+3332.8 with the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys Wide Field Channel.According to research authored by Kyle Barbary of the Supernova Cosmology Project, the object brightened over a period of roughly 100 days, reaching a peak intensity of magnitude 21; it then faded over a similar period.Barbary and colleagues report that the spectrum of light emitted from the object does not match known supernova types, and is dissimilar to any known phenomenon in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey database. The light in the blue region shows broad line features, while the red region shows continuous emission. The spectrum shows a handful of spectral lines, but when astronomers try to trace any one of them to an element the other lines fail to match up with any other known elements.Because of its uncommon spectrum, the team was not able to determine the distance to the object using standard redshift techniques; it is not even known whether the object is within or outside the Milky Way. Furthermore, no Milky Way star or external galaxy has been detected at this location, meaning any source is very faint.

The European X-ray satellite XMM Newton made an observation in early August 2006 which appears to show an X-ray glow around SCP 06F6, two orders of magnitude more luminous than that of supernovae.Observations from the Palomar Transient Factory, reported in 2009, indicate a redshift z = 1.189 and a peak magnitude of −23.5 absolute (comparable to SN2005ap), making SCP 06F6 one of the most luminous transient phenomena known as of that date.

Saul Perlmutter

Saul Perlmutter (born September 22, 1959) is a U.S. astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2003. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Perlmutter shared the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy, the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics with Brian P. Schmidt and Adam Riess for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

The 4 Percent Universe

The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality is a nonfiction book by writer and professor Richard Panek and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 10, 2011.

Warrick Couch

Warrick John Couch (born 1954) is an Australian professional astronomer. He is currently a professor at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. He was previously the Director of Australia's largest optical observatory, the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO). He was also the President of the Australian Institute of Physics (2015-2017), and a non-executive director on the Board of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization. He was a founding non-executive director of Astronomy Australia Limited.His principal research area is the study of how galaxies form and evolve, with a particular focus on the role that their environment plays. This research has involved major observational programs using many of the largest ground-based optical telescopes (Gemini, VLT, AAT, ESO 3.6m, NTT) as well as space-based telescopes (Hubble, Chandra, ROSAT).Couch is recognized as one of the most highly cited researchers in his field. He was a member of the Supernova Cosmology Project, where his research contributed to the Nobel Prize winning work on the accelerating expansion of the universe, he was a joint winner of the Gruber Prize in Cosmology in 2007 for his role in the discovery of the accelerating universe, and a joint winner of the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics which "recognizes major insights into the deepest questions of the Universe". He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand..

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