Ask Ethan #83: What if dark energy isn’t real? (Synopsis)

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.” –
Robert Frost

We’ve come to believe that we know the fate of the Universe: that dark energy will drive distant galaxies and clusters apart, leaving only the objects that are already gravitationally bound together intact.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Through the use of type Ia supernovae as standard candles, we’ve been able to trace out the Universe’s expansion to tens of billions of light years, and the big surprise was that the expansion is speeding up, and hence we’re in for a terribly lonely long-term fate.

But what if these supernovae weren’t so standard? A new discovery may indicate exactly that.

Image credit: screenshot from http://uanews.org/story/accelerating-universe-not-so-fast.
Image credit: screenshot from http://uanews.org/story/accelerating-universe-not-so-fast.

Does this mean that dark energy might be all wrong? Find out on this week’s Ask Ethan!