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Open Access Publications from the University of California

How many dark energy parameters?

  • Author(s): Linder, Eric V.
  • et al.

For exploring the physics behind the accelerating universe a crucial question is how much we can learn about the dynamics through next generation cosmological experiments. For example, in defining the dark energy behavior through an effective equation of state, how many parameters can we realistically expect to tightly constrain? Through both general and specific examples (including new parametrizations and principal component analysis) we argue that the answer is 42 - no, wait, two. Cosmological parameter analyses involving a measure of the equation of state value at some epoch (e.g., w_0) and a measure of the change in equation of state (e.g., w') are therefore realistic in projecting dark energy parameter constraints. More elaborate parametrizations could have some uses (e.g., testing for bias or comparison with model features), but do not lead to accurately measured dark energy parameters.

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