Scientists claimed in a series of articles published in February that black holes are the likeliest source of dark energy, which is thought to make up the missing 68% of the universe.
A group of researchers across nine countries recently observed how supermassive black holes at the centers of various galaxies are growing more than expected, which aligns with gravitational theories put forth by Einstein, Imperial College London reported. In layman’s terms, Einstein hypothesized that black holes combined with his theory of gravity combine to create dark energy.
So, what is dark energy? We have no idea, but we know that it makes up roughly 68% of the universe around us, according to NASA. Dark energy impacts the way that the universe expands, and that’s all we know. It should be noted that dark energy is not the same as dark matter, which is something entirely different and even more complicated, and makes up roughly 27% of the universe. Everything else we know about, including every single atom on Earth and within our cosmos makes up 5% of the entire universe.
The studies published in The Astrophysical Journal and The Astrophysical Journal Letters proposed that “black holes are the astrophysical origin of dark energy, explaining the onset of accelerating expansion.” If you think we’re not being very sciencey in this article, it’s because we’re not. This is an absurdly complicated topic, but arguably one of the most important as it could help explain what is going on in more than 90% of our universe.
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“This is a really surprising result. We started off looking at how black holes grow over time, and may have found the answer to one of the biggest problems in cosmology,” study co-author Dr. Dave Clements told Imperial.
His sentiments were echoed by his co-author Dr. Chris Pearson, who noted, “If the theory holds, then this is going to revolutionize the whole of cosmology, because at last we’ve got a solution for the origin of dark energy that’s been perplexing cosmologists and theoretical physicists for more than 20 years.”
But not all astrophysicists are convinced by the findings. One in particular is an expert known colloquially as Dr. Becky, who recorded a fascinating explainer video on the study. While she doesn’t dismiss the work entirely, she does expect a “flurry of rebuttal papers.” She also wants the same team to conduct a few more experiments before making her mind up on the discovery.
The original papers were also published around the same time that the James Webb Telescope started seeing things it wasn’t supposed to in deep space. In mid-February, another international team of scientists working with the telescope found six potential galaxies that shouldn’t exist under current scientific theory, calling a lot of what researchers thought they knew about the universe into question. (RELATED: Check Out What Decided To Photobomb Space’s Coolest Telescope)
So we may not know precisely what dark energy is, but thanks to a renewed fascination with our cosmos, we may have answers sooner rather than later.