Accueil du site Presse et documents Prix Nobel 2011 Nobel prize in Physics — Discovery of the accelerating (...)

2011 Nobel prize in Physics — Discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe

JPEG - 11 ko
A view of the crab supernovae (from

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011 was divided, one half awarded to Saul Perlmutter, the other half jointly to Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae.

The two research teams raced to map the Universe by locating the most distant supernovae. More sophisticated telescopes on the ground and in space, as well as more powerful computers and new digital imaging sensors (CCD, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009), opened the possibility in the 1990s to add more pieces to the cosmological puzzle.

Both teams found over 50 distant supernovae whose light was weaker than expected - this was a sign that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating. For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago.

However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. The acceleration is thought to be driven by dark energy, but what that dark energy is remains an enigma - perhaps the greatest in physics today. What is known is that dark energy constitutes about three quarters of the Universe. Therefore the findings of the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physics have helped to unveil a Universe that to a large extent is unknown to science.

Cosmological research is not directly conducted at Institut NEEL. However, our core expertise in condensed matter physics has enabled us to contribute to key instrumental research and developments for astrophysics such as detectors and cryogenics. It has for instance been implied in the design and construction of the satellite Planck, launched in 2009 and which performed a mapping of the entire Cosmic Microwave Background sky with unprecedented sensitivity and angular resolution.



© Institut Néel 2012 l Webdesign l Propulsé par spip l Dernière mise à jour : lundi 18 mars 2019 l