Special Reviews

Throwing Light on Dark Energy

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Science  20 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5627, pp. 1914-1918
DOI: 10.1126/science.1086879

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Supernova observations show that the expansion of the universe has been speeding up. This unexpected acceleration is ascribed to a dark energy that pervades space. Supernova data, combined with other observations, indicate that the universe is about 14 billion years old and is composed of about 30%matter and 70%dark energy. New observational programs can trace the history of cosmic expansion more precisely and over a larger span of time than has been done to date to learn whether the dark energy is a modern version of Einstein's cosmological constant or another form of dark energy that changes with time. Either conclusion is an enigma that points to gaps in our fundamental understanding of gravity.

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