New study suggests we may not need ‘dark energy’ to explain universe’s properties after all

New study suggests we may not need ‘dark energy’ to explain universe’s properties after all
Nebula between Earth and the Constellation Centaurus where a white dwarf star went missing in the last decade (although probably not due to curling up and becoming a couch potato). (Image: NASA, H. Bond and K. Exter via astronomynow.com)

[Ed. – What a fascinating modern age we live in.  The basis for the shift in thinking is basically that we can handle much more complex calculations now than we could even 25 years ago.  We can shift away from convenient, placeholder assumptions — which introduce snowballing error factors — and toward actual calculations of observed interactions.  Two university institutes have collaborated on a study to test this.  It used to take decades or even centuries to make leaps of this kind.]

According to the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (Lambda-CDM) model, which is the current accepted standard for how the universe began and evolved, the ordinary matter we encounter every day only makes up around five percent of the universe’s density, with dark matter comprising 27 percent, and the remaining 68 percent made up of dark energy, a so-far theoretical force driving the expansion of the universe. But a new study has questioned whether dark energy exists at all, citing computer simulations that found that by accounting for the changing structure of the cosmos, the gap in the theory, which dark energy was proposed to fill, vanishes.

Published in 1915, Einstein’s general theory of relativity forms the basis for the accepted origin story of the universe, which says that the Big Bang kicked off the expansion of the universe about 13.8 billion years ago. The problem is, the equations at work are incredibly complicated, so physicists tend to simplify parts of them so they’re a bit more practical to work with. When models are then built up from these simplified versions, small holes can snowball into huge discrepancies.

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