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The universe may be suffused with an invisible fluid that exerts negative gravity: repelling rather than attracting.

The theory has been published by Jamie Farnes from University of Oxford in England in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics and if correct would singlehandedly explain two of the cosmos’s most mysterious phenomena: dark energy and dark matter.

Astronomers’ measurements of the cosmos suggest that visible material such as stars and gas account for only about 5% of the universe. For example, the way galaxies rotate shows gravitational effects from about five times as much matter as we can see: an invisible entity, dubbed dark matter.

And the galaxies are moving away from each other with a speed that is increasing. The unexplained energy source for the accelerating expansion is termed dark energy.

In the decades since their discoveries, dark matter and dark energy have inspired many theories, but none have satisfactorily explained either phenomenon. Farnes’ theory seems elegant because it solves the two problems with a single solution – a repulsive dark fluid.

Such a fluid would explain dark energy, because its repulsive properties would push galaxies away from each other. It could also explain dark matter; if the repulsive fluid encircled a galaxy it would effectively compress it, propelling stars towards the galactic centre in the same way as additional mass within the galaxy would.

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