An important issue in cosmology is reconstructing the effective dark energy equation of state directly from observations. With few physically motivated models, future dark energy studies cannot only be based on constraining a dark energy parameter space, as the errors found depend strongly on the parametrisation considered. We present a new non-parametric approach to reconstructing the history of the expansion rate and dark energy using Gaussian Processes, which is a fully Bayesian approach for smoothing data. We present a pedagogical introduction to Gaussian Processes, and discuss how it can be used to robustly differentiate data in a suitable way. Using this method we show that the Dark Energy Survey - Supernova Survey (DES) can accurately recover a slowly evolving equation of state to σw = ±0.05 (95% CL) at z = 0 and ±0.25 at z = 0.7, with a minimum error of ±0.025 at the sweet-spot at z ~ 0.16, provided the other parameters of the model are known. Errors on the expansion history are an order of magnitude smaller, yet make no assumptions about dark energy whatsoever. A code for calculating functions and their first three derivatives using Gaussian processes has been developed and is available for download.
Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
- Pub Date:
- June 2012
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics
- 20 pages, 9 figures, improved analysis, GaPP code available at http://www.acgc.uct.ac.za/~seikel/GAPP/index.html