If I understand it right, the universe will at some point in time expand so fast, that from any particular point in space, an observer will see an event horizon around himself.

This event horizon will radiate Hawking Radiation relative to the size of its surface.

As the universe expands faster, the event horizon becomes smaller.

The smaller a region of space is, the bigger its surface is relative to the space it contains.

So the smaller the event horizon gets, the less hawking radiation is emitted, but also the more “dense” the hawking radiation inside the event horizon gets.

The Hawking radiation bends space-time so that the expansion is locally slowed.

So, the faster space expands, the more it is slowed down by Hawking radiation?

Is there a point where the Hawking radiation would be so “dense”, that a black hole would form, that itself would give off Hawking radiation?

Would this create a region of space, that has an outer and an inner event horizon, the outer from its own expansion, the inner from a black hole inside?

Could the pressure from Hawking radiation press matter together?

Is there a speed of expansion, where the hawking radiation gets so “dense”, that it can locally slow down the expansion enough for matter from the Hawking radiation to accumulate?

Would the region slowed down by Hawking radiation be limited enough, that the surrounding space would still expand fast enough to create an event horizon?

Could the accumulation of matter happen fast enough for the mass of a universe to accumulate, before the event horizon would “break down” from the slowed down expansion?

Would such a slowed down region of space with it's newly created matter expand and behave in a way, that is compatible with what has been observed for our universe?

In this description, I might not always use the right terms and there are a few sub-questions, that come from parts of the question, that I am aware are unclear to me and that I did not want to formulate as statements. An answer to my question can take the sub-questions into account by using answers to them to answer my question, or by showing, that they are not relevant.


3 Answers 3


I suspect you have heard a slightly garbled account of a de Sitter horizon.

Dark energy makes the expansion of the universe accelerate, and since the amount of matter (both ordinary matter and dark matter) in the universe is approximately constant the expansion dilutes the matter and reduces its density. By contrast dark energy is not diluted and the result is that the universe becomes dominated by dark energy. Under these conditions an event horizon called a de Sitter horizon forms as a sphere around the observer. The de Sitter horizon produces Hawking radiation that shines inwards towards the observer at the centre of the sphere. This is discussed in the answers to de Sitter cosmological limit though the discussion there is rather technical.

You can kind of think of this as the opposite of a black hole. With a black hole the observer is outside the horizon and sees the Hawking radiation shining out. With a de Sitter horizon the observer (i.e. us) is inside the horizon and sees the Hawking radiation shining inwards. Though don't take this too literally as when we look at the maths the two horizons have important differences.

Anyhow, the intensity of the Hawking radiation depends on the radius of the de Sitter horizon and the smaller the radius the higher the intensity (again much like a black hole).

But as far as we know the dark energy concentration is constant and doesn't change as the universe expands, and this means the de Sitter horizon will have a fixed radius of somewhere between 15 and 20 billion light years. A horizon this big produces a vanishingly small amount of Hawking radiation and that isn't going to have any effect on the expansion. In this case the scenario you suggest is impossible.

The de Sitter horizon can only shrink if the density of the dark energy increases as the universe expands. If the density of dark energy increases with the expansion then the increased density makes the expansion accelerate even faster, and that increases the dark energy density even more, and a vicious cycle develops. This leads to a catastrophic conclusion called the Big Rip. If I understand your question correctly you're asking what happens as a Big Rip approaches.

And the simple answer is that we have absolutely no idea because the Big Rip is a singularity and that makes it impossible to calculate what happens at the rip or afterwards. In principle a theory of quantum gravity would allow us to calculate what happens at the rip, but since we currently have no theory of quantum gravity we are unable to perform that calculation.

But while the idea of a Big Rip sounds exciting I should emphasise that there is absolutely no evidence for it at the moment. As far as we can tell the dark energy density is constant and that means the universe will settle down to a steady state with a constant de Sitter radius.

  • $\begingroup$ I think what he may be thinking of is not a "Big Rip", but inflation. If the Universe expanded far faster at an early point, could the horizons become small enough that matter is thus produced by their incandescence? $\endgroup$ Jul 6, 2019 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ @The_Sympathizer In most theories of inflation (and there are many, many theories of inflation) the energy density during inflation is far too high for matter as we see it today to exist. The matter we see today was created at the end of inflation when the inflaton field decayed and transferred its energy to the other quantum fields. This is not related to the Hawking radiation produced by the de Sitter horizons. However the Hawking radiation was important as it created the primordial density fluctuations that we see in the cosmic microwave background. $\endgroup$ Jul 7, 2019 at 11:25

So far as we know, nothing ever leaves the universe, so it cannot emit Hawking radiation though black holes within it can. The black hole has to form first, the Hawking radiation comes after. Current thinking is that the universe, mysteriously speeded up by dark energy, will go on expanding for ever, but not everyone agrees. The newly created matter you refer to was created more than 13 billion years ago, very shortly after the Big Bang. This should have created an equal quantity of antimatter at the same time, but nobody knows what happened to it. New matter is not created on a large scale today. Hawking radiation does not slow down the expansion of the universe, but we need to find something which does if we support the Big Bang-Big Crunch-big Bounce theory of an eternally recycled universe. Gravity was doing the job until dark energy came along and threw a spanner in the works. We await further developments.


This is not settled physics by any account. However, according to the Scionics Institute, something sort of like what you described is actually what does happen, but without the formation of black holes. This can be explained using a layman's description of virtual particles (which should be sufficient to get the point across here here):

Virtual particles which emerge at the edge of an event horizon can become permanently separated due to one falling into the black hole and one escaping out into space, thereby becoming a "real" particle. Similarly, as the acceleration of the universe continues to increase, it also becomes increasingly difficult for pairs of virtual particles to mutually annihilate, as they get pulled away from each other due to the super-fast (and ever accelerating) expansion of space itself. (This is pretty much what you already said, I'm just repeating for clarity.)

Eventually, as enough virtual particles are converted into real particles (or real energy, as the two are equivalent) their mutual gravitational attraction halts the accelerating expansion. At this point the universe is in a state exactly as it was at some point after what we commonly call the big bang: An extremely dense universe, filled with energy (or mass, as again, these are equivalent) which had just undergone an exponential expansion, but is now expanding linearly, but still VERY fast, fast enough for virtual particles to keep coming into existence and becoming "real." This continues until the accumulation of real particles slows the expansion to the point where virtual particles can no longer be pulled apart and become real. Still super-fast, but just not fast enough for virtual particles to become real.

So, the "end" of our observable universe (not the whole universe itself, just the part we can observe) looks pretty much exactly like the "beginning" of our observable universe. In this model, then, the entire universe (not just the part we can observe) is actually infinite, eternal, and eternally expanding, albeit at different rates at different times and places.

There is no actual beginning or end to the universe. It is eternal. There are, however, different "epochs" marked by what we think of as "big bangs" and "big rips" - which are actually the same thing! (And really, the "big rips" in this model never actually get to the point of eternally "ripping" everything apart, because it is stopped by the appearance of real particles everywhere.)

Our observable part of the universe was once smaller than an atom, but has now expanded to the size it currently is. (This expansion was super-fast during the big rip/bang phase, but is now much slower, although slightly accelerating at this point.) At the end of this epoch, every part of the observable universe which is the size of an atom will itself expand to the size of our observable universe, and bigger. (Actually, ultimately infinitely.)

This is definitely a ground-breaking view which is new enough that it has not been widely reviewed or accepted as yet. But I think it will be. It avoids the postulated big-bang singularity, and the logical inconsistency (i.e., physical impossibility) of having a singularity containing the mass-energy of the universe explode. It also avoids having a universe (or existence itself) spring forth "from nothing." The universe always was and always will be, and always was and will be expanding (again, at different rates at different times and places). And while it might be hard to imagine the expansion of something infinite, it makes perfect mathematical sense when expansion is viewed as the the creation of new points (or Planck units, in the case of the physical universe) coming into existence between preexisting ones.

This is laid out in an article or book called "Matheism and Psychonics" but the specific part about cosmology and the big bang/rip is here.


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