Science & Technology

Supernovae and the search for Dark Energy

Professor Isobel Hook
Wednesday, 21 April 2021 - 6:30pm


Just over 20 years ago, two teams of astronomers discovered that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating. The 2011 Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Perlmutter, Schmidt and Riess for this unexpected result, which was based on careful measurements of Type Ia supernovae. The discovery implies that something, often now referred to as “Dark Energy”, is pushing the universe apart against the pull of gravity.

Professor Isobel Hook was a member of Perlmutter’s team. In this talk she will describe the work that led to the initial discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe. This includes the original motivation for the work, the challenges along the way, and the surprise of the discovery itself. Professor Hook will then discuss the major projects that have taken place since then to test, improve and explain the results.

The talk will conclude with a discussion about the exciting prospects for the future of supernova cosmology; as new telescopes - which are being planned and constructed now - come into operation.


About the speaker

Isobel Hook graduated from the University of Cambridge and continued there to study for a PhD in Astronomy. Following post-doctoral positions in Berkeley and Munich, she became involved in the Gemini Create your own automated PDFs with JotForm PDF Editor 1twin telescopes project, working in Edinburgh and Oxford Universities and at the Gemini-North site in Hawaii. She was appointed as a University Research lecturer at Oxford and was promoted to a Chair in Astrophysics at Oxford jointly with an appointment as a Senior Researcher at the INAF-Observatory of Rome in 2008. She was appointed as a Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Physics at Lancaster University in 2015.

She has received several awards for her research including a Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. Her current research is focused on observations of distant supernovae and their use in cosmology. She is involved in planning future telescope projects in order to better understand the effects of Dark Energy on the expansion of the universe.



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Event image: A Type Ia supernova (1994D) and its host galaxy (NGC 4526) - NASA/ESA, The Hubble Key Project Team and The High-Z Supernova Search Team