Skip to comments.Results From South Pole Support Einsteinís Cosmological Constant
Posted on 04/04/2012 1:05:17 AM PDT by lbryce
Analysis of data from the National Science Foundation-(NSF) funded 10-m South Pole Telescope (SPT) in Antarctica provides new support for the most widely accepted explanation of dark energy, the source of the mysterious force that is responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe.
The results begin to hone in on the tiny mass of the neutrinos, the most abundant particles in the universe, which until recently were thought to be without mass.
The SPT data strongly support Albert Einstein's cosmological constantthe leading model for dark energyeven though researchers base the analysis on only a fraction of the SPT data collected and only 100 of the over 500 galaxy clusters detected so far.
"With the full SPT data set we will be able to place extremely tight constraints on dark energy and possibly determine the mass of the neutrinos," said Bradford Benson, an NSF-funded postdoctoral scientist at the University of Chicago's Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.
Benson presents the SPT collaboration's latest findings, Sunday, April 1, at the American Physical Society meeting in Atlanta.
These most recent SPT findings are only the latest scientifically significant results produced by NSF-funded researchers using in the telescope in the five years since it became active, noted Vladimir Papitashvili, Antarctic Astrophysics and Geospace Sciences program director in NSF's Office of Polar Programs.
"The South Pole Telescope has proven to be a crown jewel of astrophysical research carried out by NSF in the Antarctic," he said. "It has produced about two dozen peer-reviewed science publications since the telescope received its 'first light' on Feb. 17, 2007. SPT is a very focused, well-managed, and amazing project."
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Estimated ratios of dark matter and dark energy (which may be the cosmological constant) in the universe. Dark energy now dominates the energy of the universe, in contrast to earlier epochs when it was insignificant.
In physical cosmology, the cosmological constant (usually denoted by the Greek capital letter lambda: Λ) was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe. Einstein abandoned the concept after the observation of the Hubble redshift indicated that the universe might not be stationary, as he had based his theory on the idea that the universe is unchanging. However, the discovery of cosmic acceleration in 1998 has renewed interest in a cosmological constant