London, May 14 (IANS): Scientists are yet to agree on the existence of a multiverse where our universe is only one of many, but if it does, it might not be as inhospitable to life as previously thought.
Questions about whether other universes might exist as part of a larger multiverse, and if they could harbour life, are burning issues in modern cosmology.
Stephen Hawking’s final theory of the cosmos, completed only weeks before his death in March, stated that reality may be made up of multiple universes.
The new research, published in two related papers in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, showed that life could potentially be common throughout the multiverse, if it exists.
The key to the finding, the researchers said, is dark energy, a mysterious “force” that is accelerating the expansion of the Universe.
It challenges the belief that our universe has been lucky to have only a small amount of dark energy that enabled it to host life, among many universes that could not.
Using huge computer simulations of the cosmos, the new research found that adding dark energy, up to a few hundred times the amount observed in our universe, would actually have a modest impact upon star and planet formation.
This opens up the prospect that life could be possible throughout a wider range of other universes, if they exist, the researchers said.
“For many physicists, the unexplained but seemingly special amount of dark energy in our Universe is a frustrating puzzle,” said Jaime Salcido from Durham University in Britain.
“Our simulations show that even if there was much more dark energy or even very little in the universe then it would only have a minimal effect on star and planet formation, raising the prospect that life could exist throughout the multiverse,” Salcido added.
“Even increasing dark energy many hundreds of times might not be enough to make a dead universe,” added Pascal Elahi from University of Western Australia.