A mysterious "dark energy event" billions of years ago may have sped up the universe – and could rewrite history as we know it.
Scientists now believe that the dark forces are changing the speed of the universe's expansion, which might mean humanity isn't destined for complete destruction.
We've known for years that the universe is expanding – and could one day rip everything apart and make life impossible.
But there's a mystery puzzling astronomers the world over: the universe seems to be expanding faster than it should be, by about 9 percent.
Now astronomers from the John Hopkins University have concocted a theory why, the New York Times reports.
They believe that a strange event in the early universe sped up the expansion – and may be happening again right now.
Hidden in the current universe is a force field called dark energy, which has a speeding-up effect on the expansion of the cosmos.
Some scientists believe this dark energy might be getting stronger and denser, eventually tearing the fabric of space and time apart.
But not all experts agree that this will happen, and there's a lack of evidence explaining exactly why the universe expands at the speed it does.
It all relates to the difficulty of trying to measure the universe.
Scientists use a number known as the Hubble constant, which measures how fast the universe is expanding.
To work this out, astronomers use objects – like distant stars and space explosions – with distances that can be measured easily.
But there's not a consensus on what number the Hubble constant actually is.
In 2001, a team using the Hubble Space Telescope found that a galaxy moves 72km/s faster for every megaparsec it sits away from us.
Later studies suggested this number is very accurate.
However, it disagrees with results from the European Planck spacecraft, which says that the Hubble constant is 67km/s – a 9% gap.
The Planck figure is based on studying the early universe, and the Hubble constant is from data in a "middle-aged universe".
So scientists are now trying to find a way to "fix" models of the early universe to make it expand a bit faster.
Researchers at John Hopkins have a solution: fields of anti-gravitational energy.
They think that about 100,000 years after the Big Bang, a new energy field turned on, filling space with "cosmic antigravity".
This gave a boost to the universe's expansion, before fading away after another 100,000 years.
Experts think this "early dark energy" could fix the Hubble constant gap, and rewrite our universe's history.
Of course, this isn't the first time our universe has been "caught" expanding too fast.
The first time happened when the universe was in its first trillionth of a trillionth of a second.
During this very early stage, scientists have accounted for a huge ballooning
Then there's the alleged speeding-up 100,000 years into the cosmos' history.
And then the third is happening right now.
The big revelation is that the universe's expansion might not be speeding up at a constant rate.
Instead, the acceleration might stop and start, because dark energy fields are temporary.
This might mean that our possible doom caused by the universe ripping apart might be delayed – and might not happen at all.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.