The Cosmic Triangle: Revealing the State of the Universe

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Science  28 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5419, pp. 1481-1488
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5419.1481

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The cosmic triangle is introduced as a way of representing the past, present, and future status of the universe. Our current location within the cosmic triangle is determined by the answers to three questions: How much matter is in the universe? Is the expansion rate slowing down or speeding up? And, is the universe flat? A review of recent observations suggests a universe that is lightweight (matter density about one-third the critical value), is accelerating, and is flat. The acceleration implies the existence of cosmic dark energy that overcomes the gravitational self-attraction of matter and causes the expansion to speed up.

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