Exploding Stars and the Accelerating Universe

TYPEDistinguished Lecture Series
Speaker:Robert Kirshner
Affiliation:Harvard University
Dates:20.12 - 31.12.2011
Time:All Day
Location:Physics Department Technion
Abstract:Observations of exploding stars halfway across the Universe show that the expansion of the Universe is speeding up. We attribute this to a pervasive "dark energy" whose properties we would like to understand. In this series of talks, Professor Kirshner will show the evidence from supernovae, and outline the present state of knowledge on dark energy, which is completely consistent with a modern version of the cosmological constant, but with a ridiculously low value. Then he will discuss ways to use infrared observations to make the supernova measurements with better accuracy and higher precision. Finally he will discuss how the matrix of evidence from other observations, including the cosmic microwave background and the growth of structure in the universe, can help us understand whether modifications to general relativity or a time-varying component of dark energy can be ruled out. Professor Kirshner (with collaborators) won the Gruber Prize for Cosmology in 2007. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences (USA). He is a frequent public lecturer on science. His popular-level book "The Extravagant Universe: exploding stars, dark energy, and the accelerating cosmos" won the AAP Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Physics and Astronomy.