Friday, 20 August 2010

The universe 'will expand forever', new Nasa study on 'dark energy' concludes

Space agency researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to “narrow in” on what they believe comprises the energy, which pushes our universe apart at ever-increasing speed.

Discovered it in 1998, astronomers have been unable to say what the mysterious force is, except that it is invisible and makes up a “large chunk of our universe”, or 72 per cent of its size.

Almost a quarter, 24 per cent, is thought to be "dark matter", which is also mysterious but easier to study than dark energy because of its “gravitational influence”.

The rest of the universe, a mere four per cent, is made of “the stuff that makes up people, planets, stars and everything made up of atoms”.

By using the huge “galactic magnifying lens” the international team of scientists, led by Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, concluded the distribution of dark energy would mean the universe would never stop growing.

The study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, also found it would eventually become a dead and cold wasteland. Read more

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