Phantom energy

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Phantom energy is a hypothetical form of dark energy satisfying the equation of state with . It possesses negative kinetic energy, and predicts expansion of the universe in excess of that predicted by a cosmological constant, which leads to a Big Rip. The idea of phantom energy is often dismissed, as it would suggest that the vacuum is unstable with negative mass particles bursting into existence. [1] The concept is hence tied to emerging theories of a continuously-created negative mass dark fluid, in which the cosmological constant can vary as a function of time. [2] [3]

Dark energy unknown property in cosmology that causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate.

In physical cosmology and astronomy, dark energy is an unknown form of energy which is hypothesized to permeate all of space, tending to accelerate the expansion of the universe. Dark energy is the most accepted hypothesis to explain the observations since the 1990s indicating that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.

Equation of state (cosmology) equation of state in cosmology

In cosmology, the equation of state of a perfect fluid is characterized by a dimensionless number , equal to the ratio of its pressure to its energy density  :

Negative energy is a concept used in physics to explain the nature of certain fields, including the gravitational field and various quantum field effects.



The existence of phantom energy could cause the expansion of the universe to accelerate so quickly that a scenario known as the Big Rip, a possible end to the universe, occurs.

Big Rip A cosmological model based on an exponentially increasing rate of expansion

In physical cosmology, the Big Rip is a hypothetical cosmological model concerning the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the matter of the universe, from stars and galaxies to atoms and subatomic particles, and even spacetime itself, is progressively torn apart by the expansion of the universe at a certain time in the future. According to the standard model of cosmology the scale factor of the universe is known to be accelerating and, in the future era of cosmological constant dominance, will increase exponentially. However, this expansion is similar for every moment of time, and is characterized by an unchanging, small Hubble constant, effectively ignored by any bound material structures. By contrast in the Big Rip scenario the Hubble constant increases to infinity in a finite time.

Ultimate fate of the universe Topic in physical cosmology

The ultimate fate of the universe is a topic in physical cosmology, whose theoretical restrictions allow possible scenarios for the evolution and ultimate fate of the universe to be described and evaluated. Based on available observational evidence, deciding the fate and evolution of the universe have now become valid cosmological questions, being beyond the mostly untestable constraints of mythological or theological beliefs. Many possible futures have been predicted by different scientific hypotheses, including that the universe might have existed for a finite and infinite duration, or towards explaining the manner and circumstances of its beginning.

Big Rip mechanism

The expansion of the universe reaches an infinite degree in finite time, causing expansion to accelerate without bounds. This acceleration necessarily passes the speed of light (since it involves expansion of the universe itself, not particles moving within it), causing more and more objects to leave our observable universe faster than its expansion, as light and information emitted from distant stars and other cosmic sources cannot "catch up" with the expansion. As the observable universe expands, objects will be unable to interact with each other via fundamental forces, and eventually the expansion will prevent any action of forces between any particles, even within atoms, "ripping apart" the universe.

Expansion of the universe increase in distance between parts of the universe over time

The expansion of the universe is the increase of the distance between two distant parts of the universe with time. It is an intrinsic expansion whereby the scale of space itself changes. The universe does not expand "into" anything and does not require space to exist "outside" it. Technically, neither space nor objects in space move. Instead it is the metric governing the size and geometry of spacetime itself that changes in scale. Although light and objects within spacetime cannot travel faster than the speed of light, this limitation does not restrict the metric itself. To an observer it appears that space is expanding and all but the nearest galaxies are receding into the distance.

Observable universe A spherical part of the universe which contains all matter that can be observed from the Earth at the present time

The observable universe is a spherical region of the universe comprising all matter that can be observed from Earth or its space-based telescopes and exploratory probes at the present time, because electromagnetic radiation from these objects has had time to reach the Solar System and Earth since the beginning of the cosmological expansion. There are at least 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe. Assuming the universe is isotropic, the distance to the edge of the observable universe is roughly the same in every direction. That is, the observable universe has a spherical volume centered on the observer. Every location in the universe has its own observable universe, which may or may not overlap with the one centered on Earth.

One application of phantom energy in 2007 was to a cyclic model of the universe. [4]

Cyclic model cosmological model in which the universe follows infinite, or indefinite, self-sustaining cycles

A cyclic model is any of several cosmological models in which the universe follows infinite, or indefinite, self-sustaining cycles. For example, the oscillating universe theory briefly considered by Albert Einstein in 1930 theorized a universe following an eternal series of oscillations, each beginning with a Big Bang and ending with a Big Crunch; in the interim, the universe would expand for a period of time before the gravitational attraction of matter causes it to collapse back in and undergo a bounce.

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Big Bang The prevailing cosmological model for the observable universe

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the observable universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state, and offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), large-scale structure and Hubble's law. If the observed conditions are extrapolated backwards in time using the known laws of physics, the prediction is that just before a period of very high density there was a singularity which is typically associated with the Big Bang. Current knowledge is insufficient to determine if the singularity was primordial.

Physical cosmology Universe events since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago

Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the studies of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and with fundamental questions about its origin, structure, evolution, and ultimate fate. Cosmology as a science originated with the Copernican principle, which implies that celestial bodies obey identical physical laws to those on Earth, and Newtonian mechanics, which first allowed those physical laws to be understood. Physical cosmology, as it is now understood, began with the development in 1915 of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, followed by major observational discoveries in the 1920s: first, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe contains a huge number of external galaxies beyond the Milky Way; then, work by Vesto Slipher and others showed that the universe is expanding. These advances made it possible to speculate about the origin of the universe, and allowed the establishment of the Big Bang theory, by Georges Lemaître, as the leading cosmological model. A few researchers still advocate a handful of alternative cosmologies; however, most cosmologists agree that the Big Bang theory explains the observations better.

Inflation (cosmology) theory of rapid expansion of the universe

In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation, or just inflation, is a theory of exponential expansion of space in the early universe. The inflationary epoch lasted from 10−36 seconds after the conjectured Big Bang singularity to some time between 10−33 and 10−32 seconds after the singularity. Following the inflationary period, the universe continued to expand, but the expansion was no longer accelerating.

Dark matter Hypothetical form of matter comprising most of the matter in the universe

Dark matter is a form of matter thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe and about a quarter of its total energy density. Most dark matter is thought to be non-baryonic in nature, possibly being composed of some as-yet undiscovered subatomic particles. Its presence is implied in a variety of astrophysical observations, including gravitational effects which cannot be explained by accepted theories of gravity unless more matter is present than can be seen. For this reason, most experts think dark matter to be abundant in the universe and to have had a strong influence on its structure and evolution. Dark matter is called dark because it does not appear to interact with observable electromagnetic radiation, such as light, and is thus invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, making it undetectable using existing astronomical instruments.

Cosmological constant constant representing stress-energy density of the vacuum in Einsteins equation

In cosmology, the cosmological constant is the energy density of space, or vacuum energy, that arises in Albert Einstein's field equations of general relativity. It is closely associated to the concepts of dark energy and quintessence.

Accelerating expansion of the universe Universe events since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago

The accelerating expansion of the universe is the observation that the expansion of the universe is such that the velocity at which a distant galaxy is receding from the observer is continuously increasing with time.

In physics, quintessence is a hypothetical form of dark energy, more precisely a scalar field, postulated as an explanation of the observation of an accelerating rate of expansion of the universe. The first example of this scenario was proposed by Ratra and Peebles (1988). The concept was expanded to more general types of time-varying dark energy and the term "quintessence" was first introduced in a paper by Robert R. Caldwell, Rahul Dave and Paul Steinhardt. It has been proposed by some physicists to be a fifth fundamental force. Quintessence differs from the cosmological constant explanation of dark energy in that it is dynamic; that is, it changes over time, unlike the cosmological constant which, by definition, does not change. Quintessence can be either attractive or repulsive depending on the ratio of its kinetic and potential energy. Those working with this postulate believe that quintessence became repulsive about ten billion years ago, about 3.5 billion years after the Big Bang.

In theoretical physics, negative mass is matter whose mass is of opposite sign to the mass of normal matter, e.g. −1 kg. Such matter would violate one or more energy conditions and show some strange properties, stemming from the ambiguity as to whether attraction should refer to force or the oppositely oriented acceleration for negative mass. It is used in certain speculative hypotheses, such as on the construction of traversable wormholes and the Alcubierre drive. Initially, the closest known real representative of such exotic matter is a region of negative pressure density produced by the Casimir effect.

False vacuum A hypothetical vacuum, less stable than true vacuum

In quantum field theory, a false vacuum is a hypothetical vacuum that is somewhat, but not entirely, stable. It may last for a very long time in that state, and might eventually move to a more stable state. The most common suggestion of how such a change might happen is called bubble nucleation – if a small region of the universe by chance reached a more stable vacuum, this 'bubble' would spread.

Paul Steinhardt American cosmologist

Paul Joseph Steinhardt is an American theoretical physicist whose principal research is in cosmology and condensed matter physics. He is currently the Albert Einstein Professor in Science at Princeton University where he is on the faculty of the Departments of Physics and Astrophysical Sciences.

Dark fluid

In astronomy and cosmology, dark fluid is an alternative theory to both dark matter and dark energy and attempts to explain both phenomena in a single framework.

Future of an expanding universe Future scenario assuming that the expansion of the universe will continue forever

Observations suggest that the expansion of the universe will continue forever. If so, then a popular theory is that the universe will cool as it expands, eventually becoming too cold to sustain life. For this reason, this future scenario once popularly called "Heat Death" is now known as the Big Chill or Big Freeze.

Cosmological constant problem major unsolved problem in physics

In cosmology, the cosmological constant problem or vacuum catastrophe is the disagreement between the observed values of vacuum energy density and theoretical large value of zero-point energy suggested by quantum field theory.

Robert R. Caldwell is an American theoretical physicist and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College. His research interests include cosmology and gravitation. He is known primarily for his work on theories of cosmic acceleration, in particular dark energy, quintessence, and the Big Rip scenario.

Jamie Farnes astrophysicist, radio astronomer, and algorithm developer

Jamie S. Farnes is a British cosmologist, astrophysicist, and radio astronomer currently based at the University of Oxford. He studies dark energy, dark matter, cosmic magnetic fields, and the Large-scale structure of the Universe. In 2018, it was announced by Oxford that Farnes may have simultaneously solved both the dark energy and dark matter problems, using a new negative mass dark fluid toy model that "brings balance to the universe".


  1. Carroll, Sean (February 1, 2019). "Vacuum stability". Preposterous Universe Blog via Preposterous Universe Blog.
  2. Farnes, J. S. (2018). "A Unifying Theory of Dark Energy and Dark Matter: Negative Masses and Matter Creation within a Modified ΛCDM Framework". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 620: A92. arXiv: 1712.07962 . Bibcode:2018A&A...620A..92F. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201832898.
  3. Farnes, Jamie (December 17, 2018). "Bizarre 'Dark Fluid' with Negative Mass Could Dominate the Universe".
  4. Lauris Baum and Paul Frampton (2007). "Turnaround In Cyclic Cosmology". Phys. Rev. Lett. 98 (7): 071301. arXiv: hep-th/0610213 . Bibcode:2007PhRvL..98g1301B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.98.071301. PMID   17359014.

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