Earth may be just one planet in an extensive 'multiverse' of life, claims new research published this week.
The multiverse theory was developed to explain a discrepancy between the belief that there ought to be a lot more 'dark matter' in the universe than scientists have currently been able to observe.
While renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was not a fan of the idea, he reluctantly agreed that some aspects of the theory may be true - not least because an abundance of dark matter would delay the formation of life, stars and planets.
Now, researchers from Durham University, the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and the University of Western Australia claim that life could be common throughout the so-called various multiverses.
First proposed in the 1980s, the multiverse theory claims that a small amount of dark energy enabled the universe - including planet Earth - to host life.
Our simulations show that even if there was much more dark energy or even very little in the universe then it would only have a minimal effect on star and planet formation
In this research project, the scientists used large-scale computer simulations of the cosmos to explore how this form of energy impacts star and planet formation.
After analysing this data, they found that dark energy has only a "modest impact" on the creation of new stars, planets and life forms, suggesting that multiverses with a greater abundance of dark matter could host life just like Earth.
"This opens up the prospect that life could be possible throughout a wider range of other universes, if they exist," said the researchers.
The scientists are to publish two research papers on the topic in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society academic journal.
For many physicists, the unexplained but seemingly special amount of dark energy in our universe is a frustrating puzzle
Jaime Salcido, a postgraduate student at Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology, said the findings answer many questions about the multiverse theory.
"For many physicists, the unexplained but seemingly special amount of dark energy in our universe is a frustrating puzzle," said Salcido.
"Our simulations show that even if there was much more dark energy or even very little in the universe then it would only have a minimal effect on star and planet formation, raising the prospect that life could exist throughout the multiverse."
According to the research team, if the multiverse exists, scientists would be able to observe 50 times the amount of dark energy previously analysed.
Dr Luke Barnes, from Western Sydney University, added: "The multiverse was previously thought to explain the observed value of dark energy as a lottery - we have a lucky ticket and live in the universe that forms beautiful galaxies which permit life as we know it.
"Our work shows that our ticket seems a little too lucky, so to speak. It's more special than it needs to be for life. This is a problem for the multiverse; a puzzle remains."
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