End of the world: Universe could start shrinking ‘remarkably soon,’ scientists warn

Dark energy could 'rip universe apart in the future' says expert

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For more than 13 billion years, the universe has been constantly expanding, but that could all change, according to a new research paper. It is the theory of a trio of scientists who have attempted to map dark energy – one of the biggest mysteries of space. The elusive form of energy has caused the universe’s expansion to accelerate over time.

But the researchers say they have found evidence that its repellent force may be weakening.

According to their model, the universe could stop expanding in the next 65 million years.

Then, the researchers believe, that within 100 million years, the universe could enter a new stage of contraction for billions of years.

This, they say, could mark the deal of the universe and everything within it, or the rebirth of space and time.

And it could all happen “remarkably soon,” according to study co-author Paul Steinhardt.

He said: “Going back in time 65 million years, that’s when the Chicxulub asteroid hit the Earth and eliminated the dinosaurs.

“On a cosmic scale, 65 million years is remarkably short.”

For now, it can only be a theory, experts say – as it is impossible to test.

Dark energy has baffled scientists for years who try to explain why the universe is speeding up.

According to Albert Einstein, dark energy is a cosmological constant, meaning that the force exerted by dark energy can never change – and so the universe should keep expanding forever.

But the new theory brands dark energy as something called quintessence – a dynamic field that changes over time.

Quintessence can be either repulsive or attractive, depending on the ratio of its kinetic and potential energy at a given time.

According to the team’s model, the repellent force of dark energy could be in the midst of a rapid decline that potentially began billions of years ago.

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Two things could happen after that, according to the experts.

Either the universe contracts until it collapses in on itself in a “Big Crunch” ending life as we know it — or, the universe contracts just enough to return to a state similar to its original conditions, and another Big Bang.

The Big Crunch is not a new theory, but has been historically brushed aside due to a lack of evidence.

The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could change that.

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