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Astrophsyics

PCOS Science Goals

Expand our knowledge of dark energy

The discovery that the expansion of space is accelerating presents one of the most important scientific problems of our time. The implication that the universe is dominated by an unknown entity, now called "dark energy," that counters the attractive force of gravity, may revolutionize our understanding of cosmology and fundamental physics. Although observations with ground-based and orbital assets—including HST, Chandra, and WMAP—have confirmed the acceleration, we know very little about the most basic properties of dark energy. There is currently no theory based on known physics that can quantitatively explain dark energy. Quantum physics over-predicts the amount of observed dark energy by a factor of 10120. Empirical observations are critical to distinguishing whether dark energy is consistent with Einstein's Cosmological Constant, whether it is due to a dynamic quintessence field that changes over space and time, or whether it is simply a failure of Einstein's General theory of Relativity at cosmic scales. Because it seems to control the expansion of the Universe, we cannot predict the fate of the Universe—Will the Universe last forever?—without understanding the physical nature of dark energy.


The European Space Agency LISA observatory

PCOS News

See our new Events Calendar

Program News and Announcements

1 July 2022
Astrophysics Probe Announcement of Opportunity Schedule Update »  Details.
1 July 2022
NICER GO – Cycle 5 Revised Text and Phase-1 Due Date Delay »  Details.
1 July 2022
Swift Cycle 19 Update on Joint Observations with NICER »  Details.
1 July 2022
Inaugural NASA Sounding Rocket Symposium »  Details.
1 July 2022
1st Precursor Science Workshop Summary Report and Worksheets Posted »  Details.
26 May 2022
Astrophysics Biennial Technology Report and Tech Gaps Announcements »  Details.
5 April 2022
The NASA Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) Program Office is organizing a Time Domain and Multi-Messenger Astrophysics (TDAMM) Initiative Workshop to be held in the Annapolis area on August 22nd–24th 2022 »  Details.

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