During the years, astronomers have discovered a lot of amazing facts about the Universe. The huge amount of galaxies, stars, exoplanets, black holes, or quasars are all contributing to the mystery of how big the Universe is. Scientists approximate that the observable Universe is 93 billion light-years across. This means only the portion of the Universe from where the light had enough time to reach us during the 13.7 billion years after the Big Bang. The whole Universe could be much bigger, maybe even a million times bigger than what astronomers can observe.
But the staggering size of the observable Universe may not be the most incredible thing about it. While common sense tells us that the Universe must be shaped like a sphere just like a planet or a star, a team of scientists come with a more wild idea: the Universe is actually flat.
Measurements of dark energy suggest that we live in a flat Universe
Dark energy is the mysterious force that causes our Universe to expand in an accelerated rhythm. Without dark energy, the Universe should be pulled back by gravity to the singularity from where it came from. After precise measurements of dark energy, a team of scientists from the University of Portsmouth concluded that our Universe may be spatially flat rather than having the shape of a sphere. Over a million galaxies and quasars were analyzed for the study.
But we must not understand this ‘flatness’ of the Universe like a sheet of paper that contains all the stars, galaxies, planets, and so on. Our Cosmos could be bent into a torus, which is a donut-like shape that’s still considered “flat” by cosmological models.
Cosmologist Seshadri Nadathur, involved in the new study, said:
This result shows the power of galaxy surveys to pin down the amount of dark energy and how it evolved over the last billion years,
We’re making really precise measurements now and the data is going to get even better with new surveys coming online very soon.
The research was published in the journal Physical Review Letters, and we’re eagerly waiting for new studies.
Whether the Universe is flat or not, an even bigger mystery arises: figuring out what’s beyond it, and that may be the ultimate achievement in cosmology.