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Title: Discovering the Nature of Dark Energy: Towards Better Distances from Type Ia Supernovae -- Final Technical Report

Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia; exploding white-dwarf stars) were the key to the Nobel-worthy 1998 discovery and subsequent verification that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, driven by the effects of dark energy. Understanding the nature of this mysterious, yet dominant, component of the Universe is at the forefront of research in cosmology and fundamental physics. SNe Ia will continue to play a leading role in this enterprise, providing precise cosmological distances that improve constraints on the nature of dark energy. However, for this effort to succeed, we need to more thoroughly understand relatively nearby SNe Ia, because our conclusions come only from comparisons between them and distant (high-redshift) SNe Ia. Thus, detailed studies of relatively nearby SNe Ia are the focus of this research program. Many interesting results were obtained during the course of this project; these were published in 32 refereed research papers that acknowledged the grant. A major accomplishment was the publication of supernova (SN) rates derived from about a decade of operation of the Lick Observatory Supernova Search (LOSS) with the 0.76-meter Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT). We have determined the most accurate rates for SNe of different types in large, nearby galaxies in themore » present-day Universe, and these can be compared with SN rates far away (and hence long ago in the past) to set constraints on the types of stars that explode. Another major accomplishment was the publication of the light curves (brightness vs. time) of 165 SNe Ia, along with optical spectroscopy of many of these SNe as well as other SNe Ia, providing an extensive, homogeneous database for detailed studies. We have conducted intensive investigations of a number of individual SNe Ia, including quite unusual examples that allow us to probe the entire range of SN explosions and provide unique insights into these objects and the stars before they explode. My team's studies have also led to the identification of subsamples of SNe Ia that can be used to provide the most reliable cosmological distances, and we developed ways to deal with the dust that makes SNe Ia appear fainter than they really are. Using the KAIT/LOSS sample, we produced an excellent Hubble diagram (galaxy recession speed vs. distance), accurately showing the expansion of the Universe. Even smaller scatter was achieved when spectroscopic characteristics were taken into account. Another high-quality Hubble diagram was constructed with SNe Ia from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). These Hubble diagrams provide useful new constraints on the nature of the dark energy that is accelerating the expansion of the Universe. As an added bonus of our research, we also studied core-collapse SNe, which differ fundamentally from SNe Ia.« less
  1. Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Regents of the Univ. of California
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), High Energy Physics (HEP) (SC-25)
Country of Publication:
United States
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; supernovae; observational cosmology; accelerating universe; dark energy