“Honestly, our discovery may just be a coincidence. But if it isn’t, it is truly incredible. It would change our understanding of the universe’s composition and why it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate,” says Steen Harle Hansen, an associate professor at the Niels Bohr Institute’s DARK Cosmology Centre, who created a new computer model that replaces dark energy–the mysterious, elusive phenomena that pushes the cosmos to expand so rapidly and which is estimated to account for 70% of the contents of the universe – with a model that combines with dark matter in the form of magnetic forces.
The Physics –a Mystery
Astronomers have known for two decades that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, but the physics of this expansion remains a mystery. Dark energy has been described as everything from a fifth force to a new form of matter, but so far, no direct evidence has been found of its existence. Hansen’s model reminds one of Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb’s comment that the only thing more speculative than the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence is dark matter or dark energy.
This dark energy, the cosmological constant- a substance that makes it possible for the universe to expand at an ever-increasing rate– morphs with dark matter in the form of magnetic forces. The new model included everything that they know about the universe–gravity, the speed of the universe’s expansion and X, the unknown force that expands the universe.
“As far as our current knowledge,” adds Hansen, “our ideas about dark matter with a type of magnetic force and the idea about dark energy are equally wild. Only more detailed observations will determine which of these models is the more realistic. So, it will be incredibly exciting to retest our result.”
Negated by a Hypothetical Species of Black Holes?
But, perhaps not as wild as some scientists who suggest that a counter-intuitive, hypothetical species of black holes may negate the standard model of cosmology, where dark energy is an inherent and constant property of spacetime that will result in an eventual cold death of the universe.
Big Elephant in the Room
“I have absolutely no clue what dark energy is. Dark energy appears strong enough to push the entire universe – yet its source is unknown, its location is unknown and its physics are highly speculative.”
“It’s the big elephant in the room,” says Claudia de Rham, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College about dark energy.
But because the cosmological constant–unknown repellant power known as dark energy–cannot be measured directly, numerous researchers, including Einstein who developed the concept in 1917, have doubted its existence–without being able to suggest a viable alternative.
Eureka! Dark Matter in the Form of Magnetic Forces?
Until now, that is, according to a new study by intrepid researchers at the University of Copenhagen, a model was tested that replaces dark energy with a dark matter in the form of magnetic forces.”If what we discovered is accurate, it would upend our belief that what we thought made up 70 percent of the universe does not actually exist. We have removed dark energy from the equation and added in a few more properties for dark matter. This appears to have the same effect upon the universe’s expansion as dark energy,” explains Steen Harle Hansen, an associate professor at the Niels Bohr Institute’s DARK Cosmology Centre.
Universe Expands No Differently without Dark Energy
The usual understanding of how the universe’s energy is distributed is that it consists of five percent normal matter, 25 percent dark matter and 70 percent dark energy. In the UCPH researchers’ new model, the 25 percent share of dark matter is accorded special qualities that makes dark energy redundant.
Dark matter is accorded special qualities that make the 70 percent of dark energy redundant
“We don’t know much about dark matter other than that it is a heavy and slow particle. But then we wondered–what if dark matter had some quality that was analogous to magnetism in it? We know that as normal electrically charged particles move around, they create magnetism. And, magnets attract or repel other magnets–so what if that’s what’s going on in the universe? That this constant expansion of dark matter is occurring thanks to some sort of magnetic force?” asks Steen Hansen.
Computer model tests X, the unknown force that expands the universe with a type of magnetic energy
“We developed a model that worked from the assumption that dark matter particles have a type of magnetic force and investigated what effect this force would have on the universe. It turns out that it would have exactly the same effect on the speed of the universe’s expansion as we know from dark energy,” explains Steen Hansen.