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Relativity, Gravitation and CosmologyA Basic Introduction$
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Ta-Pei Cheng

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573639

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573639.001.0001

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Inflation and the accelerating universe

Inflation and the accelerating universe

(p.237) 11 Inflation and the accelerating universe
Relativity, Gravitation and Cosmology

Ta-Pei Cheng

Oxford University Press

Einstein introduced the cosmological constant in his field equation so as to obtain a static universe solution. This constant energy density corresponds to a negative pressure, giving rise to a repulsive force that increases with distance. The inflationary theory of cosmic origin can provide the correct initial conditions for the standard model of cosmology: solving the flatness, horizon problems, and providing an origin of matter/energy, as well as giving just the right kind of density perturbation for subsequent structure formation. The primordial inflation leaves behind a flat universe, which can be compatible with the observed matter density being less than the critical density and a cosmic age greater than 9 Gyr if there remains a dark energy. This would imply a universe now undergoing an accelerating expansion, which is observationally supported by the measurement of supernovae at high redshift. The cosmological constant and the cosmic coincidence problems point to the need of new fundamental physics.

Keywords:   cosmological constant, static universe, negative pressure, gravitational repulsion, primordial inflation, flatness problem, horizon problem, flat geometry, CMB anisotropy, dark energy, accelerating universe, supernovae

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