We show explicitly, by using astrophysical data plus reasonable assumptions for the bulk viscosity in the cosmic fluid, how the magnitude of this viscosity may be high enough to drive the fluid from its position in the quintessence region at present time t = 0 across the barrier w = −1 into the phantom region in the late universe. The phantom barrier is accordingly not a sharp mathematical divide, but rather a fuzzy concept. We also calculate the limiting forms of various thermodynamical quantities, including the rate of entropy production, for a dark energy fluid near the future Big Rip singularity.
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