Scientists predict that the universe could begin to shrink “significantly” once “dark energy” weakens, but this won’t happen for at least 65 million years.
According to the “Daily Mail”, a new study indicated that the beginning of the end of the universe could come “remarkably” soon, when the expansion of the 13.8 billion-year-old universe suddenly stops.
It is widely known that the Big Bang is the beginning of everything we see around us, but researchers believe that the universe may enter an era of slow contraction that ends billions of years from now with the death, or perhaps the rebirth of “time and space.”
In a new research paper, Princeton University scientists used previous observations of cosmic expansion to try to model dark energy, a mysterious force that makes up about 70 percent of the universe. The acceleration of the universe could end rapidly within the next 65 million years, and then, within 100 million years, it could stop completely and begin to shrink.
According to study co-author Paul Steinhardt, director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University in New Jersey, this would cause a “major crisis” and could happen quickly and “significantly”.
Albert Einstein had the idea of the cosmological constant, the value of the uniform energy density permeating space, that explains why the universe did not collapse, but cosmology underwent a paradigm shift in 1998 when researchers announced that the rate of expansion of the universe accelerated. As a result, the cosmological constant must be given a non-zero value, as many believed that this expansion was a sign of impending collapse, and scientists called the mysterious source of this acceleration “dark energy.”
As an invisible entity, researchers believe that dark energy works against gravity by pushing the universe’s most massive objects apart rather than grouping them together. This means that if they become weaker, gravity will be the dominant force and cause the universe to contract, leading to the collision of stars and galaxies. And the planets while the universe collapses on itself. Experts believe that dark energy can be weakened because, rather than being stationary, it could be something called a ‘quintessence’, a dynamic field that changes over time.
To test their theory, the researchers created a model of this “core”, which demonstrated its repulsive and attractive power over time. Once the model reliably reproduced the history of the expansion of the universe, they then expanded the predictions into the future.
What they found is that dark energy could be in the midst of a rapid decline that began billions of years ago, which means that the accelerating expansion of the universe is actually slowing down.