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Multiverse With Aliens Could Exist, New Researchers Suggests

Should the search for alien life in our universe come up empty-handed, it might be worth checking in on a neighboring universe instead. According to a new pair of studies in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, there’s a decent chance that life-fostering planets could exist in a parallel universe.

The idea that our universe is just one of many, perhaps infinite, other universes is known as the multiverse theory. Scientists have previously thought that such parallel universes, if they exist, would have to meet an extremely strict set of criteria to allow for the formation of stars, galaxies and life-fostering planets like those seen in our own universe.

In the new study, researchers ran a massive computer simulation to build new universes under various starting conditions. They found that the conditions for life might be a little broader than previously thought — especially when it comes to the mysterious pull of dark energy.

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Too little dark energy, and runaway gravity could cause every galaxy to collapse in on itself before life ever had a chance to appear. But the question of how much dark energy is “too much” or “too little” is a topic for debate — and it’s this issue of quantity that the authors of the new studies hoped to narrow down.

Life finds a way

Across several experiments, an international team of researchers from England, Australia and the Netherlands used a program called Evolution and Assembly of Galaxies and their Environments to simulate the birth, life and eventual death of various hypothetical universes. In each simulation, the researchers adjusted the amount of dark energy present in that universe, ranging from none to several hundred times the amount in our own universe. The good news: Even in universes with 300 times as much dark energy as ours, life found a way.

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“Our simulations showed that the accelerated expansion driven by dark energy has hardly any impact on the birth of stars, and hence places for life to arise,” study co-author Pascal Elahi, a research fellow at the University of Western Australia, said in a statement. “Even increasing dark energy many hundreds of times might not be enough to make a dead universe.”

That’s good news for fans of extraterrestrial life and the multiverse theory. But a bigger question remains: If galaxies could still thrive on so much dark energy, why did our universe get handed such a seemingly small amount?

“I think we should be looking for a new law of physics to explain this strange property of our Universe,” co-author Richard Bower, a professor at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, said in the statement.

Of course, finding new laws of physics is easier said than done. Scientists won’t give up easily — but perhaps, to hedge their bets, they should also look for a parallel universe where some intelligent life has already done it for them.