When supernova observations in the end of the 1990s showed the cosmic expansion to be accelerating, it became necessary to reintroduce the cosmological constant Λ as a fitting parameter. Although its physical origin has remained a mystery, it has generally been interpreted as some kind of energy field referred to as “dark energy.” This interpretation however implies a cosmic coincidence problem because we happen to live at a time when dark energy becomes the dominant driver of the expansion. Here we present an alternative explanation: The Λ term is induced by a global boundary constraint that ties its value to the conformal age of the universe. The cosmic coincidence problem then goes away. We illustrate how the cosmological evolution that is implied by this constraint differs from standard cosmology. Without the use of any free parameters, the theory predicts a present value of Λ that is within 2σ from the value derived from CMB observations with the Planck satellite. The universe is found to be mildly inflationary throughout the entire radiation-dominated era. This obviates the need to postulate a hypothetical, violent grand unification theory (GUT) era inflation to explain the observed large-scale homogeneity and isotropy of the universe.
Part of the book: Cosmology 2020