STScI Logo

Space Telescope Science Institute
2008 Spring Symposium


The universe is more complex than we imagined it to be a decade ago. Observations of distant supernovae, the cosmic microwave background, galaxies, clusters of galaxies, gamma-ray bursts, and gravitational lenses, now all indicate that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. It is as if the universe is filled with a sea of "dark energy," the pressure of which counteracts the pull of gravity on large scales.

The observations suggest a fundamental flaw in our understanding of the basic forces of nature. A wide variety of solutions have been proposed, ranging from modifications of General Relativity to new quantum fields. Observations related to dark energy now occupy a significant fraction of the observing time at major observatories. Each week, more than 20 new papers related to dark energy are published. Meanwhile, the international astronomical community is contemplating major investments in facilities aimed at better characterizing dark energy. The past decade marked the discovery of dark energy and the revelation of our profound ignorance of the cosmos. Dark-energy research over the next decade may well lead the way to a deeper understanding of the laws of physics.

The Space Telescope Science Institute's 2008 May Symposium: A Decade of Dark Energy, focused on cutting-edge issues in the study of dark energy. The conference, which was held May 5-8, included:

  • Presentations of the latest observational results,
  • Reviews and discussion of theoretical advances -- including the connection to other areas of fundamental physics,
  • Discussion of ways to differentiate between models and figures of merit for optimizing future observations,
  • Outlines of future dark-energy projects, and
  • Discussion of measurement techniques and challenges, focusing on advances since the Dark Energy Task Force report.

Confirmed Speakers

Andreas Albrecht Steven Allen Rachel Bean
Chuck Bennett Gary Bernstein Chris Blake
James Braatz Sarah Bridle Asantha Cooray
Ruth Daly Daniel Eisenstein Alex Filippenko
Brenna Flaugher Wendy Freedman Henk Hoekstra
Wayne Hu Lam Hui Dragan Huterer
Jai-chan Hwang Bhuvnesh Jain Saurabh Jha
Robert Kirshner Lawrence Krauss Tod Lauer
Mario Livio Ishwaree Neupane Lyman Page
John Peacock William Percival Saul Perlmutter
Valeria Pettorino Adam Riess Paul Steinhardt
Mark Sullivan Michael Turner Tony Tyson
Licia Verde Yun Wang Scott Watson
Edward Witten

Organizing Committee

Harry Ferguson Norbert Pirzkal
Jonathan Bagger Chuck Bennett
Van Dixon S. Michael Fall
Andrew Fruchter Benne Holwerda
Mario Livio Duccio Macchetto
Warren Moos Marc Postman
Neill Reid Adam Riess
Massimo Robberto Massimo Stiavelli