End of the Universe: Cosmos will be torn apart by 'BIG RIP'

New scientific data shows that phantom energy will increase the speed the universe is expanding to beyond the speed of light.


At this point neither light, matter, space or time will be able to connect or interact and everything in existence will literally be ripped apart, according to researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee,


Existing fundamental forces such as gravity, electromagnetism and strong and weak nuclear force which underpin the universe, holding planets in their orbits and gluing atoms together, will simply fail.


At this point the universe will cease to exist.


Phantom energy defies Einstein's rule that nothing in the universe can travel faster than speed of light (186,000 miles per second) because the expansion happens OUTSIDE the universe.


And the mind-bending Big Rip conclusions of the Tennessee team have garnered huge support among the international scientific community.


Mathematician Dr Marcelo Disconzi, one of the authors of the research, said: "The idea of the Big Rip is that eventually even the constituents of matter would start separating from each other.


"You'd be seeing all the atoms being ripped apart ... it's fair to say that it's a dramatic scenario.

"Mathematically we know what this means. But what it actually means in physical terms is hard to fathom,"


However Dr Disconzi admitted the data was not 100% conclusive because it was still impossible to state with unequivocal accuracy whether the universe would indeed expand at an ever increasing rate.


A second theory, known as the Big Crunch, suggests that the amount of matter (including the newly-fashionable dark matter) in the universe will be enough to slow expansion and indeed reverse the process so all matter eventually ends up at a point of infinite density known as a singularity.


At this point another Big Bang may be triggered and the expansion-contraction process will continue forever.


A third theory, based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics, suggest the universe ends in a slightly awful-sounding 'Heat Death'.


Everything that happens anywhere in the universe is basically heat travelling from a hot place to a cooler place until equilibrium is established.


When this equilibrium is established energy effectively ceases to exist and the universe is cold and dead.


Dr Disconzi said: "You have this competition between dark energy that tries to expand the universe and gravity that tends to make it collapse again - the question is 'who wins?'

"What is known from current observational data is that a Big Rip scenario is possible, although the available data is far from conclusive.


"What our paper brings to the discussion is a mechanism that yields a Big Rip in a fairly natural way, in contrast of most models of the Big Rip where unnatural assumptions have to be introduced."


Their research is published in the journal Physical Review D.

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