Observational Probes of Cosmic Acceleration
The accelerating expansion of the universe is the most surprising cosmological discovery in many decades, implying that the universe is dominated by some form of "dark energy" with exotic physical properties, or that Einstein's theory of gravity breaks down on cosmological scales. The profound implications of cosmic acceleration have inspired ambitious experimental efforts to measure the history of expansion and growth of structure with percent-level precision or higher. We review in detail the four most well established methods for making such measurements: Type Ia supernovae, baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO), weak gravitational lensing, and galaxy clusters. We pay particular attention to the systematic uncertainties in these techniques and to strategies for controlling them at the level needed to exploit "Stage IV" dark energy facilities such as BigBOSS, LSST, Euclid, and WFIRST. We briefly review a number of other approaches including redshift-space distortions, the Alcock-Paczynski test, and direct measurements of H_0. We present extensive forecasts for constraints on the dark energy equation of state and parameterized deviations from GR, achievable with Stage III and Stage IV experimental programs that incorporate supernovae, BAO, weak lensing, and CMB data. We also show the level of precision required for other methods to provide constraints competitive with those of these fiducial programs. We emphasize the value of a balanced program that employs several of the most powerful methods in combination, both to cross-check systematic uncertainties and to take advantage of complementary information. Surveys to probe cosmic acceleration produce data sets with broad applications, and they continue the longstanding astronomical tradition of mapping the universe in ever greater detail over ever larger scales.