For centuries, scientists have believed the universe to be static and unchanging. But in 1998, this theory was shattered by the discovery of dark energy. We know now that the universe must constantly be expanding. Its rate of expansion is accelerating because of dark energy. We don’t see it or feel it, but everything that exists inside this invisible force is growing apart at a faster and faster pace every day.

In 1998, two teams of astronomers shocked the world when they announced that the universe was not only expanding but also accelerating. This meant that the universe was not just growing; it was growing faster and faster. This discovery implied an even bigger surprise. That there was some kind of force out there that nobody had ever imagined before. This invisible force causing the acceleration of the universe has been given many names: most often, it’s called dark energy or quintessence, but it’s also been called ‘phantom energy,’ aether fields, vacuum energy, the cosmological constant, and Higgs-like fields.

What is dark energy?

Dark energy is a kind of exotic energy. It’s invisible and doesn’t interact with normal matter, yet it is all around us. We don’t fully understand what dark energy is and aren’t sure where it came from, but we know how much it is: a whopping 73%!

One of the more popular ideas for dark energy is that it’s a new form of energy called ‘quintessence,’ after the fifth element in Greek mythology. This type of energy would be present throughout all of space and time in a fixed amount. Scientists believe that if the universe is expanding, it must have been smaller in the past. If dark energy has always been here, it would mean that there was a time when the universe was even tinier than a single atom.

Stars Sky Night Starry Night Sky  - Hans / Pixabay
Hans / Pixabay

Physicists have also been able to show that accelerating universes would produce a huge amount of dark energy. If the universe was smaller in the past, all the matter must have been compressed into a single area. This means that when you look at the universe today, it looks extremely “full”; there’s no empty space! This is what is known as an “open universe.” However, in an accelerating universe, all of the space between the galaxies would have been squeezed into a small amount of space. This is why scientists call this theory the “closed universe.”

The Big Bang theory predicts that the universe was smaller in the past. However, the universe is now expanding because of dark energy, which means that its size hasn’t changed with time. But if the universe was smaller in the past, it would have been filled with dark energy. Scientists believe this would have affected how the universe evolved and how it might end up today. One of these ways is by boring big holes in space, allowing gravity to pull everything together into a “Big Crunch.” This theory is known as the “Big Crunch” model.

The other way that dark energy might have affected the universe is by blowing it up forever; this is known as the “Big Rip.” In a Big Rip scenario, galaxies would eventually be blown out of their orbit and into intergalactic space!

Of the two possibilities, most astronomers believe that the Big Rip is more likely, and they are not necessarily worried. It’s possible that a Big Rip could happen billions of years in the future, or it could happen thousands of years from now. Humans may have already evolved into beings with unimaginable technology and power. One day, an astronomer from this advanced civilization might be able to look back at our time and see what we’ve done! Another possible scenario is that our world would be destroyed before we ever had a chance to do anything with it. Even the most violent supernova explosion would be insignificant compared to a Big Rip.

What Is Dark Matter?

Dark matter is a theoretical substance composed mostly of dark energy, which accounts for roughly 27% of the universe’s light, but no one knows what it really is. Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t know what it looks like. Dark matter doesn’t emit or reflect light but rather interacts gravitationally with visible matter and radiation. It’s weird stuff because it shows up in places where their gravitational signature has only been seen, and sometimes that signature is more than enough to see them.

Theoretical Explanations of Dark Matter’s Existence

One theory is that dark matter exists but isn’t made up of a single type of particle it might be made up of many different particles instead. If this turns out to be true, scientists would have to find a way to determine what types of particles make up dark matter.

Another theory is that dark matter may not exist; we think it does and could actually be something else entirely. This is called a “dark sector,” and it might be made up of even less-observable dark matter.

How Does Dark Matter Fit In With The Big Bang Theory?

So, if dark matter does exist, how does it fit in with the Big Bang theory of the universe? This is one of the biggest questions scientists have been studying for many years, and there has been a lot of conjecture. How do you explain something that is completely invisible to us?

The Big Bang theory explains how our universe came into existence. According to this theory, 13.7 billion years ago, our universe was not just empty. It was filled with a mixture of matter and energy like a massive explosion of stars and planets. But, when the universe cooled, this mixture of matter and energy combined together to form the standard model of particles like protons and electrons that we can observe today.

Starry Sky Night Sky Stars Night  - FelixMittermeier / Pixabay
FelixMittermeier / Pixabay

Supernovae are extremely bright and violent explosions caused when stars run out of nuclear fuel. Their brightness is so intense that they can be seen from very far away, even with the naked eye.

Scientists predict that there may be an even brighter type of explosion called a gamma-ray burst (GRB). These bursts are created when two neutron stars or two black holes collide, and the energy produced is so intense that it could kill anything within a few light-years.

If you’re not too worried about being killed by gamma-ray bursts or supernovae, there’s still another treat in store for our planet: the great ice age. Some scientists hypothesize that when the sun dies out, it will expand into a huge fireball called a “red giant” and eventually fall in on itself, forming a white dwarf star. The white dwarf star would then produce so much heat that ice on the Earth’s surface would melt and flood the planet.

It’s not just our solar system that is at risk; our galaxy could also end up crashing into something. The Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across, and we have only seen about 10% of it! The Milky Way was formed from a small group of stars, which became so close that they started to interact. As these stars began to orbit each other and generate more energy, they got too close to ripping themselves apart. When this happens, known as a galactic smash, energy will be produced in the form of shock waves and a catastrophic explosion (the next galaxy over may also be in danger).

As you can see, there are so many ways that our solar system could end up, But knowing that there are so many risks out there, we must live our lives as best we can and make the most of the time we have left on this planet!

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