We explore the prospects for using future supernova observations to probe the dark energy. We focus on quintessence, an evolving scalar field that has been suggested as a candidate for the dark energy. After simulating the observations that would be expected from the proposed SuperNova/Acceleration Probe satellite (SNAP), we investigate two methods for extracting information concerning quintessence from such data. First, by expanding the quintessence equation of state as wQ(z) =wQ(0) -α ln(1 +z), to fit the data, it is possible to reconstruct the quintessence potential for a wide range of smoothly varying potentials. Secondly, it will be possible to test the basic properties of the dark energy by constraining the parameters ΩQ, wQ and α. We show that it may be possible, for example, to distinguish between quintessence and the cosmological constant in this way. Furthermore, when supernova data are combined with other planned cosmological observations, the precision of reconstructions and parameter constraints is significantly improved, allowing a wider range of dark energy models to be distinguished.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- September 2002
- supernovae: general;
- cosmology: miscellaneous;
- large-scale structure of Universe;
- Added references, corrected citations. Final version to appear in MNRAS. 13 pages, 14 figures. Uses bibTeX