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.
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.