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physicists Lawrence Krauss from Case Western Reserve University and Robert J. Scherrer from Vanderbilt University predict that trillions of years into the future, the information that currently allows us to understand how the universe expands will have disappeared over the visible horizon. What remains will be "an island universe" made from the Milky Way and its nearby galactic Local Group neighbors in an overwhelmingly dark void.
"While physicists of the future will be able to infer that their island universe has not been eternal, it is unlikely they will be able to infer that the beginning involved a Big Bang," report the researchers.
Long after the demise of the solar system, it will be up to future physicists that arise from planets in other solar systems to fathom and unravel the mysteries of the system's origins from their isolated universes dominated by dark energy.
But the irony of the presence of that abundant dark energy, the researchers report, is that future physicists will have no way to measure its presence because of a void in the gravitational dynamics of moving galaxies.
In research reported in the current issue of Physical Review Letters, the team shows that, prior to the Big Bang, there was a contracting universe with space-time geometry that otherwise is similar to that of our current expanding universe. As gravitational forces pulled this previous universe inward, it reached a point at which the quantum properties of space-time cause gravity to become repulsive, rather than attractive.