Could a Multiverse Be Hospitable to Life?

Artistic impression of a Multiverse — where our Universe is only one of many. According to the research, varying amounts of dark energy have little effect on star formation. This raises the prospect of life in other universes — if the Multiverse exists. (Credit: Jaime Salcido / simulations by the EAGLE Collaboration)
Artistic impression of a Multiverse — where our Universe is only one of many. According to the research, varying amounts of dark energy have little effect on star formation. This raises the prospect of life in other universes — if the Multiverse exists. (Credit: Jaime Salcido / simulations by the EAGLE Collaboration)

A Multiverse — where our Universe is only one of many — might not be as inhospitable to life as previously thought, according to new research. Questions about whether other universes might exist as part of a larger Multiverse, and if they could harbor life, are burning issues in modern cosmology.

Now new research led by Durham University, UK, and Australia’s University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, and the University of Western Australia has shown that life could potentially be common throughout the Multiverse, if it exists. The key to this, the researchers say, is dark energy, a mysterious “force” that is accelerating the expansion of the Universe.

Multiverse theory

Scientists say that current theories of the origin of the Universe predict much more dark energy in our Universe than is observed. Adding larger amounts would cause such a rapid expansion that it would dilute matter before any stars, planets or life could form.

The Multiverse theory, introduced in the 1980s, can explain the “luckily small” amount of dark energy in our Universe that enabled it to host life, among many universes that could not. Using huge computer simulations of the cosmos, the new research has 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. The findings are published in two related papers in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The Durham University led paper can be read here and the University of Sydney led paper is here.

The simulations were produced under the EAGLE (Evolution and Assembly of GaLaxies and their Environments)project — one of the most realistic simulations of the observed Universe.

Star formation

Jaime Salcido, a postgraduate student in Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, said:

Dr. Luke Barnes, a John Templeton Research Fellow at Western Sydney University, said:

Dark energy

Dr. Pascal Elahi, Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, said:

However, the researchers said their results were unexpected and could be problematic as they cast doubt on the ability of the theory of a Multiverse to explain the observed value of dark energy. According to the research, if we live in a Multiverse, we’d expect to observe much more dark energy than we do — perhaps 50 times more than we see in our Universe.

Although the results do not rule out the Multiverse, it seems that the tiny amount of dark energy in our Universe would be better explained by an, as yet, undiscovered law of nature.

New law of physics

Professor Richard Bower, in Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, said:

Provided by: Durham University [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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