Magazine article Science News

Phantom Energy Would Trigger the Big Rip. (Cosmic Doomsday Scenario)

Magazine article Science News

Phantom Energy Would Trigger the Big Rip. (Cosmic Doomsday Scenario)

Article excerpt

Cosmologists have long speculated about the fate of the universe. Will it expand forever or collapse in a Big Crunch? In the latest model, published online last week, the universe instead ends with a Big Rip--every galaxy, star, planet, molecule, and atom torn asunder--21 billion years from now.

The cosmos killer in this scenario is dark energy, an invisible substance suspected of pervading the universe and exerting a force opposite to gravity's usual pull. Albert Einstein first proposed the notion of antigravity in 1917 and later abandoned it. Scientists have resurrected the idea of antigravity several times. Observations of distant supernovas reported in 1998 and more recently suggest that the universe is not merely expanding but doing so at an ever faster rate (SN: 4/7/01, p. 218). Because dark energy can turn gravity into a repulsive force, it could account for this acceleration.

If the density of dark energy is constant or slowly declining, the fate of the universe is simple to chronicle. As dark energy stretches space-time and pushes galaxies ever farther apart, it would create a diluted universe in which stargazers in the Milky Way billions of years from now would be too distant from other galaxies to view any of them. They would see only a desolate canvas (SN: 8/31/02, p. 139).

But if dark energy were dense enough, as considered in the recent analysis (http:/xxx.lanl.gov/abs/astro-ph/0302506) by Robert R. Caldwell of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.