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High-Z Supernova Search Team

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The High-Z Supernova Search Team at the 2011 Nobel Prize ceremony. Brian Schmidt (right center) and Adam Reiss (left center) were awarded medals.

The High-Z Supernova Search Team was an international cosmology collaboration which used Type Ia supernovae to chart the expansion of the universe. The team was formed in 1994 by Brian P. Schmidt, then a post-doctoral research associate at Harvard University, and Nicholas B. Suntzeff, a staff astronomer at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. The original team first proposed for the research on September 29, 1994, in a proposal called A Pilot Project to Search for Distant Type Ia Supernova to the CTIO. The original team as co-listed on the first observing proposal was: Nicholas Suntzeff (PI); Brian Schmidt (Co-I); (other Co-Is) R. Chris Smith, Robert Schommer, Mark M. Phillips, Mario Hamuy, Roberto Aviles, Jose Maza, Adam Riess, Robert Kirshner, Jason Spiromilio, and Bruno Leibundgut. The original project was awarded four nights of telescope time on the CTIO Víctor M. Blanco Telescope on the nights of February 25, 1995, and March 6, 24, and 29, 1995. The pilot project led to the discovery of supernova SN1995Y. In 1995, the HZT elected Brian P. Schmidt of the Mount Stromlo Observatory which is part of the Australian National University to manage the team.

The team expanded to roughly 20 astronomers located in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Chile. They used the Víctor M. Blanco telescope to discover Type Ia supernovae out to redshifts of z = 0.9. The discoveries were verified with spectra taken mostly from the telescopes of the Keck Observatory, and the European Southern Observatory.

In January 1998, Notre Dame astrophysicist Peter Garnavich, then working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, led a High-Z team publication that used the Hubble Space Telescope to study three high-redshift supernovae.[1][2] These results indicated that the universe did not contain enough matter to halt its expansion and that the universe would likely expand forever.[3]

In a May 1998 study led by Adam Riess, the High-Z Team became the first to publish evidence that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating.[4] The team later spawned Project ESSENCE led by Christopher Stubbs of Harvard University and the Higher-Z Team led by Adam Riess of Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute.

In 2011, Riess and Schmidt, along with Saul Perlmutter of the Supernova Cosmology Project, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for this work.[5]


The original telescope time proposal in 1994 to the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory which began the High-Z Team.



  1. ^ Garnavich, P. M.; Kirshner, R. P.; Challis, P.; Tonry, J.; Gilliland, R. L.; Smith, R. C.; Clocchiatti, A.; Diercks, A.; Filippenko, A. V.; Hamuy, M.; Hogan, C. J.; Leibundgut, B.; Phillips, M. M.; Reiss, D.; Riess, A. G. (February 1, 1998). "Constraints on Cosmological Models from Hubble Space Telescope Observations of High-z Supernovae". The Astrophysical Journal. 493 (2): L53–L57. arXiv:astro-ph/9710123. doi:10.1086/311140.
  2. ^ Recer, Paul (January 9, 1998). "Studies suggest universe will expand forever and not collapse". Enterprise Record. p. 7. Retrieved June 14, 2024.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Wilford, John Noble (January 9, 1998). "New Data Suggest Universe Will Expand Forever". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 12, 2024.
  4. ^ Riess, Adam G.; Filippenko, Alexei V.; Challis, Peter; Clocchiattia, Alejandro; Diercks, Alan; Garnavich, Peter M.; Gilliland, Ron L.; Hogan, Craig J.; Jha, Saurabh; Kirshner, Robert P.; Leibundgut, B.; Phillips, M. M.; Reiss, David; Schmidt, Brian P.; Schommer, Robert A. (May 15, 1998). "Observational Evidence from Supernovae for an Accelerating Universe and a Cosmological Constant". The Astronomical Journal. 116 (3): 1009–1038. arXiv:astro-ph/9805201. doi:10.1086/300499.
  5. ^ "Nobel physics prize honours accelerating Universe find". BBC News. October 4, 2011.

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