The Universe may stop expanding 'remarkably' soon and begin shrinking

New dark energy models show that the universe's currently accelerating expansion could halt and reverse direction remarkably soon.

Published May 3, 2022 4:01 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, May 24 2022 8:31 AM CDT
1 minute & 46 seconds read time

A study on the universe shrinking titled "Rapidly descending dark energy and the end of cosmic expansion" has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Universe may stop expanding 'remarkably' soon and begin shrinking 01

Researchers have created a new model that uses dark energy, the mysterious force that appears to be driving the ever-faster expansion of the universe that has been previously observed. Their model considers dark energy not to be constant but instead decaying over time. This would result in the expansive force from the dark energy waning with time, eventually halting the universe's expansion.

The team's model estimates that within the 65 million years, the universe could stop expanding at an accelerating rate, and then within 100 million years, it could stop expanding entirely. At this stage, the universe would then begin to contract slowly over billions of years. With the universe's current age at 13.77 billion years old, this would see it begin to shrink before its 14 billionth birthday.

"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," study co-author Paul Steinhardt, Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University in New Jersey told Live Science.

"The question we're raising in this paper is, 'Does this acceleration have to last forever?' And if not, what are the alternatives, and how soon could things change?" Steinhardt continued.

You can read more from the study here.

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