The universe, one of the most elusive entities known to the human mind, is primarily composed of what we don’t know, what we can’t see, and what has almost no apparent, tangible influence on our lives. And one of these components is dark energy. Probably the most distinctive attribute of dark energy is how overwhelmingly little we know about it! Whereas most objects in space are defined by facts that we know and are able to outline, dark energy is precisely the opposite… and that’s what makes it so intriguing to humanity. In fact, dark energy is so pervasive that it occupies 68.3% of the total universe; we can only see 4-5% of the cosmos! That’s mind-boggling, since it implies that all the planets, stars, galaxies and celestial objects, which constitute visible matter, occupy an amazingly minuscule portion of the universe.
Initially, in the 20th century, it was assumed that although the universe is continuous growing, its rate of expansion is becoming slower and slower—because of the force of gravity. However, in the 1990s, teams of astrophysicists that were studying a supernova came to the conclusion that its growth rate was quickening! This was how the concept of “dark energy” came into existence; scientists called the force that was opposing the force of gravity dark energy. What was so surprising was the revelation that there was a force much more powerful than gravity lingering about, carefully hidden and invisible, in the depths of the universe! So, dark energy is a phenomenon that can be used to explain the expansion of the universe—instead of the galaxies being attracted towards each other, they are being repelled at phenomenal speeds instead!
The concept of dark energy has fueled many discussions and quests to unearth this mysterious matter; as said by Smithsonian.com, “it is sight itself that has blinded us to nearly the entire universe. And the recognition of this blindness, in turn, has inspired us to ask, as if for the first time: What is this cosmos we call home?”. Indeed, this is an enigmatic question that seems to only deepen with the more we know. Dark energy even has the distinction of being more incomprehensible than dark matter; at least dark matter can be physically mapped—although it cannot be seen through a telescope. Dark energy serves to contradict a lot known about cosmology and astrophysics—especially because it defies one of the most important forces in existence: gravity.
Even though an enormous part of the universe is occupied by dark energy, humanity knows extremely little about it. As stated by Extreme Tech on this matter—“if you have some dark energy in some space, and then you expand that space by 100%, you don’t dilute the dark energy you had because the new space you just created will have dark energy all its own”. This explanation is disarming; there is indeed a huge amount of speculation relating to this topic—because being able to understand the origins and behavior of dark energy would be a monumental leap in the field of astronomy and astrophysics, since it would help scientists understand how the universe came into being, and how it has been expanding all of these years. Undoubtedly, very little is known about this field; however, there is one certainty: dark energy does exist, and is the driving force behind the growth of the universe.