Each universe in a multiverse contains different levels of dark energy, according to the dominant theory. STOLK/GETTY IMAGES

Topics: Astrophysics, Cosmology, Dark Energy, Multiverses, Theoretical Physics

A hypothetical multiverse seems less likely after modeling by researchers in Australia and the UK threw one of its key assumptions into doubt.

The multiverse concept suggests that our universe is but one of many. It finds support among some of the world’s most accomplished physicists, including Brian Greene, Max Tegmark, Neil deGrasse Tyson and the late Stephen Hawking.

One of the prime attractions of the idea is that it potentially accounts for an anomaly in calculations for dark energy.

The mysterious force is thought to be responsible for the accelerating expansion of our own universe. Current theories, however, predict there should be rather more of it around than there appears to be. This throws up another set of problems: if the amount of dark energy around was as much as equations require – and that is many trillions of times the level that seems to exist – the universe would expand so rapidly that stars and planets would not form – and life, thus, would not be possible.

The multiverse idea to an extent accounts for and accommodates this oddly small – but life-permitting – dark energy quotient. Essentially it permits a curiously self-serving explanation: there are a vast number of universes all with differing amounts of dark energy. We exist in one that has an amount low enough to permit stars and so on to form, and thus life to exist. (And we find ourselves here, runs the logic, because we couldn’t find ourselves anywhere else.)

So far, so anthropic. But now a group of astronomers, including Luke Barnes from the University of Sydney in Australia and Jaime Salcido from Durham University in the UK, has published two papers in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that show the dark energy and star formation balance isn’t quite as fine as previous estimates have suggested.

Multiverse theory cops a blow after dark energy findings

Andrew Masterson, Cosmos Magazine

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