A mysterious force is thought to be driving the expansion of the universe, accounting for roughly 68 percent of its contents.

But, new simulations now suggest this ‘dark energy’ may not exist at all.

By taking the changing structure of the universe into account, the researchers argue that accelerated expansion can be explained without the need for dark energy – and, in a way that’s consistent with present observations and general relativity.

In the new study, published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the researchers argue that the conventional models of the universe fail to address its changing structure.

Instead, they say these models rely on approximations and assume that matter has a uniform density.

‘Einstein’s equations of general relativity that describe the expansion of the universe are so complex mathematically, that for a hundred years no solutions accounting for the effect of cosmic structures have been found,’ said co-author Dr László Dobos of Eötvös Loránd University.

‘We know from very precise supernova observations that the universe is accelerating, but at the same time we rely on coarse approximations to Einstein’s equations which may introduce serious side-effects, such as the need for dark energy, in the models designed to fit the observational data.’

The researchers designed computer simulations to model the effect of gravity on the millions of particles of dark matter distributed throughout the universe.

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