Dark Energy Could End Universe In 'Big Rip'

By Chelsea Whyte on July 24, 2012 12:49 AM EDT

supernova
This supernova explosion may be par for the course when the Universe ends in a 'Big Rip'. (Photo: NASA Goddard Photo and Video)

If you've ever wondered about the fate of the Universe, you're not alone. And now, five researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China, the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Northeastern University, and Peking University have looked into the nature of dark energy for the key to the conclusion of the cosmos.

Little is known about dark energy - which makes up a full 70 percent of the current content of the Universe - but the team inferred what they could from what is known of its properties.

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"We want to infer from the current data what the worst fate would be for the Universe," the researchers said, according to Zee News.

In a theory dubbed the "Big Rip", the density of dark energy will grow to infinity and its gravitational repulsion will continuously increase until it trumps all forces holding objects together, resulting in a tearing apart of everything in the Universe.

Though nothing will escape this destiny, said the researchers, systems more tightly bound would last longer. "If a doomsday exists, how far are we from it?" the team asked. In a worst-case scenario, the Milky Way will be torn apart 32.9 million years before the Universe meets its ultimate end.

The Sun will last until 28 minutes before the end of time, when it will explode. Earth would be destroyed 16 minutes before the end of all things.

It sounds like a horrifying fate, but rest easy tonight. We have quite a while before this gloomy scenario plays out.

"At worst, the time remaining before the Universe ends in a big rip is 16.7 billion years," according to The Daily Mail

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