A MYSTERIOUS “dark energy event” billions of years ago may have sped up the universe – and could rewrite history as we know it.
Scientists now believe that the dark forces are changing the speed of the universe’s expansion, which might mean humanity isn’t destined for complete destruction.
Getty – Contributor A mysterious dark energy event in the early universe may give us clues about the future of humanity
We’ve known for years that the universe is expanding – and could one day rip everything apart and make life impossible.
But there’s a mystery puzzling astronomers the world over: the universe seems to be expanding faster than it should be, by about 9%.
Now astronomers from the John Hopkins University have concocted a theory why, the New York Times reports.
They believe that a strange event in the early universe sped up the expansion – and may be happening again right now.
Science Photo Library Experts think the universe contains an invisible web of dark matter and dark energy
Hidden in the current universe is a force field called dark energy, which has a speeding-up effect on the expansion of the cosmos.
Some scientists believe this dark energy might be getting stronger and denser, eventually tearing the fabric of space and time apart.
But not all experts agree that this will happen, and there’s a lack of evidence explaining exactly why the universe expands at the speed it does.
It all relates to the difficulty of trying to measure the universe.
Scientists use a number known as the Hubble constant, which measures how fast the universe is expanding.
To work this out, astronomers use objects – like distant stars and space explosions – with distances that can be measured easily.
But there’s not a consensus on what number the Hubble constant actually is.
Getty – Contributor We know the universe is expanding, but scientists have hope that it’s not accelerating at a constant rate
In 2001, a team using the Hubble Space Telescope found that a galaxy moves 72km/s faster for every megaparsec it sits away from us.
Later studies suggested this number is very accurate.
However, it disagrees with results from the European Planck spacecraft, which says that the Hubble constant is 67km/s – a 9% gap.
The Planck figure is based on studying the early universe, and the Hubble constant is from data in a “middle-aged universe”.
So scientists are now trying to find a way to “fix” models of the early universe to make it expand a bit faster.
What is the Hubble Space Telescope?Here’s what you need to know…
The Hubble Space Telescope is a telescope that captures images while in space
It was launched into a low-Earth orbit in 1990 and is still fully operational
The advantage of Hubble is that it takes photos from outside of Earth’s atmosphere
This means distortion from the atmosphere is removed, allowing for more accurate image capture
Nasa’s Hubble has captured some of most detailed images of space ever recorded
The Hubble telescope was also able to accurately determine the rate at which the universe was expanding
Hubble is also the only telescope that was designed to be serviced by astronauts in space
Five different missions have been launched to repair, upgrade or replace parts of the Hubble telescope
It’s believed that the Hubble telescope could continue working until 2040
But its successor – the James Webb Space Telescope – is already set for launch in March 2021
Researchers at John Hopkins have a solution: fields of anti-gravitational energy.
They think that about 100,000 years after the Big Bang, a new energy field turned on, filling space with “cosmic antigravity”.
This gave a boost to the universe’s expansion, before fading away after another 100,000 years.
Experts think this “early dark energy” could fix the Hubble constant gap, and rewrite our universe’s history.
Nasa/Esa The Hubble Space Telescope has orbited the Earth since 1990
Of course, this isn’t the first time our universe has been “caught” expanding too fast.
The first time happened when the universe was in its first trillionth of a trillionth of a second.
During this very early stage, scientists have accounted for a huge ballooning
Then there’s the alleged speeding-up 100,000 years into the cosmos’ history.
And then the third is happening right now.
Hubble Space Telescope captures amazingly bright auroras on Jupiter
The big revelation is that the universe’s expansion might not be speeding up at a constant rate.
Instead, the acceleration might stop and start, because dark energy fields are temporary.
This might mean that our possible doom caused by the universe ripping apart might be delayed – and might not happen at all.
PicturedICE AND FIRE Nasa reveals green DRAGON in Iceland’s sky caused by hole in Sun’s corona LEAF YOURSELF ALONE Scientists discover flower that rubs itself during self-pollination CLIMATE CLEANUP Hope for ‘climate rewind’ as scientists ‘turn carbon dioxide into COAL’ SPACE RACE Amazon’s Jeff Bezos wants a TRILLION humans in space – with ‘1000s of Einsteins’ CRACKPOT CONSPIRACY UFO hunters claim Mars photo shows an ‘ancient alien temple’
Nasa spotted an emoji in space last year as the Hubble telescope revealed a “smiley face” galaxy cluster.
And in 2018, the Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of the most distant star ever spotted.
Astronomers recently spotted the “final stages” of galaxies crashing together, creating “monstrous” supermassive black holes.
What’s your favourite space mystery? Let us know in the comments!
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 782 4368 . We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.