The cosmos had grown faster than it should have, with physicists dubbing the factor responsible ‘dark energy.’ But there is a possibility that the Universe may start shrinking ‘remarkably’ fast, forcing the cosmos to collapse in a ‘big crunch,’ according to a new study.
In 1998, two separate initiatives, the Supernova Cosmology Project and the High-Z Supernova Search Team, employed distant supernovae – star explosions that temporarily shine as brightly as 10 billion suns – to estimate the accelerating expansion of the universe.
According to new study, the universe’s expansion, which was first revealed to be speeding up in 1998 due to dark energy generating repulsive pressure, similar to the reverse of gravity, could soon grind to a halt.
Additionally, the cosmos may begin to contract, causing stars, galaxies, and planets to collide. According to the study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the cosmos might ultimately collapse onto itself in a “Big Crunch.”
According to the authors, the process might occur “remarkably” swiftly, with the universe’s acceleration halting within the next 65 million years. After that, its slow contraction could culminate in the “death” of time and space, or “rebirth” in a second Big Bang, within 100 million years.
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Steinhardt and his colleagues, Anna Ijjas of New York University and Cosmin Andrei of Princeton, used historical findings of cosmic expansion to calculate how the characteristics of quintessence – a hypothetical type of dark energy – might change over the next several billion years.
According to some scientists, based on the ratio of kinetic and potential energy, quintessence is either attracting or repulsive. According to proponents of this idea, quintessence became repulsive about 10 billion years ago, or roughly 3.5 billion years after the Big Bang.
‘Decay’ of Dark Energy
Dark energy, according to the Princeton University team’s model, can fade over time, allowing the universe’s expansion to slow down after billions of years of acceleration.
The observational qualities of distant Type 1A supernovae, which proved the cosmos was undergoing an accelerated period of expansion, have been attributed to dark energy. During a survey of Type 1A supernovae in 1998, this ground-breaking discovery was made. These are huge explosions of dying giant stars, whose intense light is used by astronomers to determine cosmic distances.
Two international groups of astronomers, comprising Americans Adam Riess and Saul Perlmutter, and Australian Brian Schmidt, employed eight telescopes worldwide to conduct the 1998 study. The goal of the study was to utilize the distance between Type 1A supernovae to compute the Hubble Constant, which is the rate at which the universe expands.
The findings revealed that supernovae that burst when the cosmos was only 2/3 the age it is now were much fainter and, as a result, far further away than they should have been.
The conclusion was that the cosmos had grown faster than it should have, with physicists dubbing the factor responsible “dark energy.”
Dark energy is presently considered to account for 68 percent of all matter in the cosmos, with conventional, or “baryonic,” matter accounting for only 5%. Dark matter makes up the rest, which is also an unresolved cosmic mystery.
Dark matter and dark energy cannot be seen directly. Observations of gravitational interactions between celestial objects are used to “infer” their presence.
According to Paul Steinhardt, there really is no way to determine whether dark energy, or quintessence, is genuine or whether the cosmic expansion has slowed.
All that is left for scientists to do now, he argues, is to match the hypothesis to previous observations.
Read the full study below: