December 12, 2013
New Evidence Suggests Universal Collapse May Soon Be Upon Us
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Physicists are now saying the universe may be closer to collapsing than previously believed.Scientists have long predicted the universe could one day collapse, compressing everything contained within, much like a building that can’t contain its own weight. Sooner or later, scientists believe the universe will cause every little particle in it to become extremely heavy, causing all material to squeeze into a small, super-hot and super-heavy ball.
This process, known as phase transition, is similar to what happens when water turns into steam or a magnet heats up and loses its magnetization. The phase transition will happen if the Higgs-field associated with the Higgs Boson particle reaches a different value than the rest of the universe. If the new value results in lower energy and if the bubble is large enough, it will expand at the speed of light in all directions. Eventually, all of these particles will reach a mass that is much heavier than if they were outside the bubble, making them pull together and form supermassive centers.
"Many theories and calculations predict such a phase transition– but there have been some uncertainties in the previous calculations. Now we have performed more precise calculations, and we see two things: Yes, the universe will probably collapse, and a collapse is even more likely than the old calculations predicted," Jens Frederik Colding Krog, a PhD student at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics Phenomenology (CP ³ - Origins) at University of Southern Denmark, said in a statement.
Krog, who is co-author of an article on the subject, published in the Journal of High Energy Physics, said the phase transition will start somewhere in the universe and spread from there. He said it could be that the collapse has already started somewhere and right now it is eating away the rest of the universe.
“Maybe a collapsed [sic] is starting right now right here. Or maybe it will start far away from here in a billion years. We do not know,” says Krog.
The researchers looked at three main equations that underlie the prediction of a phase transition. They showed how the equations can be worked out together and interact with each other. After they applied all three equations together the physicists predicted the probability of a collapse as a result of a phase transition is even greater than when applying only one of the equations.
The “Big Crunch” theory says at some point the expansion of the universe will stop and all the material will begin to attract to each other and eventually merge into a small area again.
"The latest research shows that the universe's expansion is accelerating, so there is no reason to expect a collapse from cosmological observations. Thus it will probably not be Big Crunch that causes the universe to collapse,” said Krog.
While the latest calculations predict a collapse is more likely than ever before, it is still possible it will not happen at all. If the universe contains undiscovered particles, the whole basis for the prediction of phase transition disappears, which would mean the collapse would be canceled, Krog said.