A quintessential introduction to dark energy

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Most of the energy in the Universe consists of some form of dark energy that is gravitationally self-repulsive and that is causing the expansion of the Universe to accelerate. The possible candidates are a vacuum energy density (or, equivalently, a cosmological constant) and quintessence, a time-evolving, spatially inhomogeneous component with negative pressure. In this review, we focus on quintessence and ideas on how it might solve the cosmic coincidence problem, how it might be distinguished observationally from a cosmological constant, and how it may affect the overall cosmic history of the Universe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2497-2513
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1812
StatePublished - Nov 15 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • Cyclic models
  • Dark energy
  • K-essence
  • Microwave background
  • Quintessence
  • Supernovae


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