Alien life could be widespread across numerous other universes, scientists suggest.

Researchers came to the startling conclusion while studying dark energy, a mysterious "force" that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.

Current theories suggest our universe contains the 'perfect' amount of dark energy to sustain life, the Daily Mail reports.

Any more or less of it would tear apart the fabric of reality and stop planets and stars from forming.


But a new study suggests this limit is far more generous than experts once thought, meaning that the conditions needed to sustain existence may not be that rare.

If our universe is one of many versions of the cosmos - a concept known as the "multiverse" - then life could be common throughout it, they say.

Using simulations of the cosmos, researchers led by Durham University found life is still possible with far more dark energy than is present in our universe.

This opens up the prospect that life could be possible throughout a wider range of other universes, if they exist, the researchers said.

Study co-author Jaime Salcido, a researcher at Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology, said: "For many physicists, the unexplained but seemingly special amount of dark energy in our universe is a frustrating puzzle.

"Our simulations show even if there was much more dark energy - or even very little - then it would only have a minimal effect on star and planet formation, raising the prospect that life could exist throughout the multiverse."

The simulations were produced by a team involving scientists at Durham as well as a number of Australian universities.

They were made under the EAGLE (Evolution and Assembly of Galaxies and their Environments) project - one of the most realistic simulations of the universe.

Scientists looked at how different levels of dark energy might affect the development of life - specifically focusing on how it might impact star and planet formation.

Even when the simulated universe contained hundreds of times more or less dark energy than there is in our universe, planets and stars still formed and life evolved.

"We asked ourselves how much dark energy can there be before life is impossible?" said co-author Pascal Elahi, a researcher at the University of Western Australia.

"Our simulations showed that the accelerated expansion driven by dark energy has hardly any impact on the birth of stars, and hence places for life to arise.

"Even increasing dark energy many hundreds of times might not be enough to make a dead universe."

The numbers of universes in the multiverse could be infinite, meaning there may be infinite versions of reality, some of which are very similar to our own.

Some could have similar Earth-like planets, societies and even people. Others may exist where dinosaurs were not wiped out, or Germany won World War II.

Their findings are published in two related papers in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The theory first emerged in the 1980s and has been used to explain the "luckily small" amount of dark energy that enabled our cosmos to host life.

The university humanity evolved in was like a winning lottery ticket among many versions of the cosmos that could not sustain life.

But researchers behind the new study said their finding casts doubt on a multiverse explaining the value of the mysterious substance of dark energy.

We would expect to see up to 50 times more in our cosmos based on the multiverse theory, they said.

Although the results do not rule out the multiverse, it seems the tiny amount of dark energy in our universe would be better explained by an undiscovered law of nature.

"The formation of stars in a universe is a battle between the attraction of gravity, and the repulsion of dark energy," said study author and Durham University researcher Professor Richard Bower.

"We have found in our simulations that universes with much more dark energy than ours can happily form stars. So why such a paltry amount of dark energy in our universe?

"I think we should be looking for a new law of physics to explain this strange property of our universe, and the multiverse theory does little to rescue physicists' discomfort."

What is the multiverse theory?

The multiverse theory suggests that our cosmos is one of a number of different 'alternate' universes.

The number of universes could be infinite, meaning there are infinite versions of reality, some of which are very similar to our own.

Some could have similar Earth-like planets, societies and even people. Others may exist where dinosaurs were not wiped out, or Germany won World War II.

It may sound far-fetched but the concept is the subject of serious debate among physicists.

The presenter and physicist Professor Brian Cox supports the idea there may be many universes.

Professor Stephen Hawking's final research paper, completed just 10 days before he died in March this year, suggested our universe is one of many - each with similar physical states.

What is dark matter?

Dark matter is a hypothetical substance said to make up roughly 27 per cent of the universe.

The enigmatic material is invisible because it does not reflect light, and has never been directly observed by scientists.

It cannot be seen directly with telescopes, but astronomers know it to be out there because of its gravitational effects on known matter.

The European Space Agency says: "Shine a torch in a completely dark room, and you will see only what the torch illuminates.

"That does not mean that the room around you does not exist.

"Similarly we know dark matter exists but have never observed it directly."

Dark matter is thought to be the gravitational 'glue' that holds the galaxies together.

Just 5 per cent of the observable universe consists of known material such as atoms and subatomic particles.