Before the Big Rip was hypothesized, astronomers usually subscribed to one of two theories for the universe's end: the Big Crunch, or the Big Chill. The Big Crunch theory postulated that gravitational pull between all the matter in the universe would eventually cause everything to stop expanding and crash back together. The Big Chill theory said expansion would continue until the distances between objects was unimaginably vast and empty. We now know that the expansion of the universe is in fact speeding up, and depending on the power of dark energy, the Big Chill could give way to the Big Rip.
The Big Rip Could Tear Apart The Universe
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Key Facts In This Video
The expansion of the universe is speeding up, not slowing down as scientists once predicted. 00:14
Dark energy may get stronger over time. 02:08
If dark energy becomes strong enough, it could eventually rip apart the nuclei of all existing atoms. 02:46