The cause of the universe’s accelerated expansion is one of the most hotly debated topics in the history of modern physics.
Many scientists believe that dark energy makes up 68% of the cosmos and is responsible for speeding up its expansion.
But its only a hypothetical concept and now a new study published by the Royal Astronomical Society suggests it doesn’t exist at all.
Instead, the report’s authors suggest that standard models of the universe fail to account for its shifting structure and introduce dark energy without needing to.
Dr László Dobos, co-author of the paper and a researcher at Eötvös Loránd University, said the study questioned the validity of scientists’ solutions to Einstein’s theory of general relativity:
“Our findings rely on a mathematical conjecture which permits the differential expansion of space, consistent with general relativity, and they show how the formation of complex structures of matter affects the expansion. These issues were previously swept under the rug but taking them into account can explain the acceleration without the need for dark energy.”
Previous models have relied on the idea that the universe expands at the same rate, but the study’s authors have dropped that assumption.
But despite accounting for different regions of the universe expanding at different rates, the average rate is accelerating and in line with observations.
If its findings are backed up, the study threatens to overhaul many theoretical physicists’ understanding of the universe.
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It’s not the first study to challenge the existence of dark energy.
Back in October, researchers at Oxford University questioned the idea that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.
After analysing 740 supernovas, the physicists found that the evidence for acceleration wasn’t strong enough to have a fundamental significance.
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