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What Is Dark Energy?

By: April Carson

Physicists propose that dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy that explains the accelerating rate of the universe's expansion, in addition to just expanding.

Dark energy can be considered the opposite of gravity, creating a negative pressure that expands the universe and stretches spacetime. In contrast to gravity, which brings objects closer, dark energy forcefully separates them at an accelerated pace.

Scientists have not yet identified a clear explanation for what dark energy is, although they are examining several possible explanations. They hypothesize that it could be a form of energy present in space, or something more complex like the cosmological constant.

Despite this lack of knowledge, scientists continue to study dark energy in hopes of discovering its true nature. By observing the expansion rate of the universe and measuring any changes, they may eventually solve the mystery.

Included in these are the vacuum energy of space, where particles appear and disappear in space, and a hypothetical "fifth force" that causes negative pressure and may be behind the universe's accelerating expansion.

There are other theories about what could be causing dark energy besides the current theories. For example, some scientists think that a low-energy field called "quintessence" or fields of hypothetical particles called tachyons that can travel faster than light and possibly back in time could be responsible for it.

Currently, the only way to "know" dark energy is by observing its effect on the universe since all of our understanding of it is purely hypothetical. But if we can observe its effect on the universe, then its existence is certain. Dark energy has been measured over the last two decades and it appears to be a consistent force throughout the observable universe. This means that dark energy could be behind the accelerating expansion of the universe, as well as other mysteries such as dark matter and quantum gravity.

What does Dark Energy have to do with our universe? How does it affect us?

The most direct effect of dark energy is that it is responsible for the accelerated expansion of the universe. This means that galaxies are getting farther and farther apart, faster and faster all the time. As a result, if we could look far enough away from Earth, we would see more dark energy and less matter. This is because the accelerating universe would have already spread apart much of the matter that was out there, leaving only dark energy behind.

Dark energy also affects us in other ways, such as influencing gravitational forces on a cosmic scale. It is believed to be responsible for large-scale structure formation in the universe, such as the formation of galaxies and the large-scale distribution of matter. Additionally, it is thought that dark energy influences the evolution of our universe, helping to shape its evolution over time.

The exact nature of dark energy is still unknown; however, we know that it must be some form of energy with negative pressure. This means that, unlike matter, it is not affected by gravity and instead acts to push against the pull of gravity. This pushes all matter away from each other causing an accelerated expansion of space-time. Although dark energy accounts for a large proportion of the universe’s mass-energy budget, its origin, and effects remain mysterious.

What is the difference between Dark Energy vs Dark Matter?

While dark energy and dark matter have many similarities, they are two distinct phenomena. Dark matter is the mysterious substance that makes up most of the universe’s mass but does not interact with light or other forms of electromagnetic radiation. On the other hand, dark energy is an even more mysterious form of energy that appears to be driving the accelerated expansion of the universe.

Scientists are still trying to understand how dark energy works, and its effects on the structure and evolution of the universe. While both have been observed in large-scale structures, their effects at individual scales remain a mystery.

How was Dark Energy discovered?

According to the website of the Hubble Space Telescope, Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer, first discovered in 1929 that the galaxies farther away from the Earth are moving away from us at a faster rate. This discovery indicates that everything in space is moving away from each other at a consistent speed, rather than the Earth being the center of the universe. This movement of galaxies is known as the expansion of the universe, and dark energy is thought to be causing this.

After Hubble's revelation about the expanding universe nearly 60 years ago, scientists made another significant discovery. They tried to measure the cosmic distances accurately by studying the light of faraway stars. In the late 1990s, two independent teams examined distant supernovas and found something surprising. The light emitted from those stellar explosions was dimmer than expected. This surprising discovery indicates that the universe is not only expanding, but its expansion is also accelerating.

The result of this observation has led to the idea that a mysterious force is acting upon the universe, causing it to expand faster and faster. This enigmatic force has been dubbed dark energy. The exact nature of dark energy remains one of the biggest mysteries in physics today.

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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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