Life could be a common phenomenon in many universes beyond our own, suggest a pair of new papers that examine the effects dark energy has on star formation.

The findings center on multiverse theory, which is an idea first proposed in the 1980s that proposes our universe is one of many. Scientists have proposed various theories for the nature of the multiverse, but all hold that each universe abides by a different set of physical laws.

What seems special about our universe is that it appears to have a near-perfect amount of dark energy—a mysterious, invisible force that’s causing our universe to expand at an ever-accelerating rate, sort of like the opposite of gravity. Scientists generally think that having too much or too little dark energy in a universe would make it impossible for stars—and, therefore, life—to form.

“For many physicists, the unexplained but seemingly special amount of dark energy in our Universe is a frustrating puzzle,” said Jaime Salcido, study leader and postgraduate student in Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology.

Now, scientists think there might be more wiggle room in the amount of dark energy a universe can have before star formation becomes impossible.

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(Image: NASA/Public Domain)
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