Dark energy is literally the name given to this mysterious force which is causing the accelerating pace of the universe’s rate of expansion, not to halt it. This is contrary to what one may expect from a process that came about in a relatively brief Big Bang.
According to most cosmologists, it originated from a collision between two very dense centers, namely, super giant chunks of ice and rock. The collision was so violent that the protons (atoms with positive nuclear energy) were split, resulting in different kinds, or colors, of radiation. These colors are the ones we call dark.
This, according to most theories, is how the entire universe got its particular color:
Because all the other parts in the early universe were composed of much lighter stuff, including hydrogen and helium, which have little or no neutrons, respectively, while the dark matter consists mostly of deuterium (light yellow) and quarks (pink). The balance was made up of a few other elements, which are not explained and are believed to be very heavy, such as boron and oxygen.
A problem, however, is that no one has yet measured this material to define its composition. And even though a variety of experiments have been carried out with the goal of measuring this composition, so far, none of them have yielded conclusive results.
In spite of the lack of precise measurements, many scientists believe that dark energy can be detected through various indirect means.
One of these ways is by looking for an imbalance between the energy produced and the amount of heat flowing out of an area.
If there is a discrepancy, the results imply that there is something blocking the passage of light through empty space, similar to an opaque curtain, that absorbs most of the infrared rays that will pass through. The dark energy is thus produced through an invisible barrier that only our eyes can see.
Another way to detect dark energy is through GPS or global positioning satellites.
These devices are designed to pinpoint any place on the earth within a certain range. They use a combination of GPS and LASIK technology, the former helping to determine latitude and longitude, while the latter will determine the velocity of objects within a fixed orbit. By comparing the location of an object with the distance it covers from the GPS satellite, the cosmological constant can be calculated.
The latest addition to this list is quantum gravity.
It postulates that gravity is a complex phenomenon that cannot be easily formulated by means of science.
Part of this reason why the new theory is considered more mysterious is that it does not offer a complete description of the cosmos. As mentioned above, both space and time must be considered in relation with each other in order to explain dark energy. Astronomy, too, is involved, as well as the interaction between space and time.
One of the unanswered questions regarding dark energy concerns its relation with the cosmological constant.
According to this old idea, space-time itself is not static, as the constants mentioned above indicate. On the contrary, space-time itself is constantly changing, although in a linear way. Thus, the present-day cosmological constant, namely the Planck’s Constant, is disturbed by random fluctuations that originate from outside space. This leads to gaps in the time continuity, which lead to “pairs” of time periods.
The problem with this old idea is that it doesn’t explain how the acceleration of the expansion of the universe came about. Dark energy, on the other hand, comes from something different: the weakness of gravity. This means that the normal matter that makes up most of the galaxies, including our own Milky Way, contains nearly no dark energy. If the expansion of the universe was so fast, according to this new theory, it should have left behind a very insignificant amount of normal matter.
Instead, cosmologists found out that they were right about the nature of dark energy after detecting a small excess of radiation coming from some unknown satellites orbiting the planet Jupiter.
Based on this data, particle physics experts came up with a new model of the cosmos: the Quintessence Principle.
In this model, dark energy and the strength of the force of gravity are balanced, thus controlling the formation of the universe. Although not a hundred percent right, particle physics researchers have made significant advances toward understanding the structure of the entire universe through this new theory.