The universe is expanding and scientists suggest that a catastrophic collapse is imminent. The process has started and will happen earlier than expected, but the impending collapse is still billions of years away, they say.
Nemanja Kaloper from the University of California in Davis and Antonio Padilla from the University of Nottingham propose the mechanism of cosmological collapse. They also analyze the implication of the event, which includes descriptions of dark energy.
Padilla said scientists are able to observe dark energy, and their studies point to the upcoming doomsday. They have made some calculations that purport the collapse may start in a few tens of billions of years. However, the theory needs to be verified.
The proposed mechanism of the collapse, the researchers believe, can also help answer some questions, which include the cosmological constant problem, which is a value of uniform energy density that fills space. The cosmological constant was introduced by Albert Einstein in 1917 to explain that the universe was not collapsing.
"I think we have opened up a brand new approach to what some have described as 'the mother of all physics problems,' namely the cosmological constant problem," said Padilla.
However, in 1998, scientists revealed that the expansion rate of the universe had accelerated, which resulted in the cosmological constant to yield a non-zero value. Many researchers also believed that the accelerated expansion was also an indication of a collapse.
The authors of the latest study explain that the universe has been expanding for the past 13.8 billion years, and it is currently in the accelerated expansion stage. If the universe is about to collapse, the expansion process will stop and the universe will also start shrinking under its own gravity.
Kaloper adds that the onset of the collapse is immediately led by a period of late cosmic acceleration, which is being observed now. However, we are still billions of years away from the collapse.
Researchers also say that a detailed analysis is still needed to back the latest theory.
Check out a short video of Padilla talking about the imminent universe collapse.
Photo: Hubble ESA | Flickr