By US Department of Energy February 27, 2021
The universe is expanding and it is expanding a little faster all the time. Scientists call the acceleration of this cosmic acceleration of expansion. This growth increases the distance between points in the universe, just as stretching a rubber sheet would cause the points on that sheet to move farther and farther apart.
The universe has experienced two distinct periods of cosmic acceleration. The first, called inflation, happened a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. The second is the long period of cosmic acceleration that began about 9 billion years after the Big Bang and continues today. Scientists discovered the growing expansion of the universe in 1998 through observations of distant supernovae (exploding stars). Scientists who discovered cosmic acceleration were awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.
This discovery posed a new question that scientists continue to explore today: What is “dark energy” that overcomes the effect of gravity and separates our universe? Dark energy can be an inherent characteristic of the universe, or it could be something related to new and unknown particles or forces. It could…
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