Expanding Universe, Dark Energy Are Illusions

A new theory suggests that the accelerating expansion of the universe is merely an illusion. The false impression results from the way our particular region of the cosmos is drifting in space.

What's the Latest Development?

A new theory pioneered by cosmologist Christos Tsagas claims that some of the most confounding observations and theories in modern physics, specifically that of an expanding universe caused by slippery dark energy, may be just an illusion created by the location of our corner of the cosmos relative to other parts. The explanation hinges on an observation known as 'dark flow' which states that our section of the universe, roughly 2.5 billion light years wide, is moving at a different speed and direction than other sections. 

What's the Big Idea?

If 'dark flow' is real, it may provide a simpler understanding of the cosmos than current theories. When an expanding universe was observed in the 1920s, cosmologists were confounded because gravity implies that large bodies attract one another—scientists therefore thought the universe was naturally shrinking. "Dark flow is by far less mysterious [than dark energy]: While no one knows what dark energy is, or how we might find it, dark flow is merely movement." The theory also throws into question how, or if, the universe will end. 

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less