The Effective Theory of Quintessence and Its Observational Signatures
I will study generic single-field dark energy models, by a parametrization of the most general theory of their perturbations around a given background, including higher derivative terms. In appropriate limits this approach reproduces standard quintessence, k-essence and ghost condensation. There are no general pathologies associated to an equation of state w_Q < -1 or in crossing the phantom divide w_Q = -1. Stability requires that, when w_Q < -1, dark energy behaves, on cosmological scales, as a fluid with a virtually zero speed of sound. Theoretical and stability constraints are summarized on the quintessential plane (1+w_Q) vs. speed of sound squared.
Finally, I will discuss the effect of dark energy with a zero speed of sound on non-linear scales, by calculating the cluster mass function.