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Model-independent determination of the cosmic growth factor

Sophia Haude, Shabnam Salehi, Sofía Vidal, Matteo Maturi, Matthias Bartelmann

SciPost Astro. 2, 001 (2022) · published 17 January 2022


Since the discovery of the accelerated cosmic expansion, one of the most important tasks in observational cosmology is to determine the nature of the dark energy. We should build our understanding on a minimum of assumptions in order to avoid biases from assumed cosmological models. The two most important functions describing the evolution of the universe and its structures are the expansion function E(a) and the linear growth factor D_+(a). The expansion function has been determined in previous papers in a model-independent way using distance moduli to type-Ia supernovae and assuming only a metric theory of gravity, spatial isotropy and homogeneity. Here, we extend this analysis in three ways: (1) We extend the data sample by combining the Pantheon measurements of type-Ia supernovae with measurements of baryonic acoustic oscillations; (2) we substantially simplify and generalise our method for reconstructing the expansion function; and (3) we use the reconstructed expansion function to determine the linear growth factor of cosmic structures, equally independent of specific assumptions on an underlying cosmological model other than the usual spatial symmetries. We show that the result is quite insensitive to the initial conditions for solving the growth equation, leaving the present-day matter-density parameter {\Omega}_m0 as the only relevant parameter for an otherwise purely empirical and accurate determination of the growth factor.

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