Astronomers Find that the Universe Is Slowly Dying

Tuesday, 11 August 2015 - 12:57PM
Astrophysics
Physics
Tuesday, 11 August 2015 - 12:57PM
Astronomers Find that the Universe Is Slowly Dying
Astronomers have known for decades that the Universe will someday run out of energy and become a cold, dark wasteland. Now, an international team of scientists has found that the Universe's energy is depleting faster than we thought, and that in fact, it has already entered "old age."



According to the predominant theory of the end of the Universe, the expansion of the Universe will lead to large empty spaces between galaxies, which will, in turn, prevent fuel from accumulating for star formation. All of the stars will burn out, leaving an entirely dark Universe filled with remnants such as black holes, white holes, and neutron stars. Then, all of these objects aside from black holes will disappear from proton decay, leaving nothing but black holes. Finally, the black holes will evaporate, leaving an endless void.

We already knew that the energy output from the Universe at large was decreasing, marking the beginning of this very slow death. But this study from the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, the largest multi-wavelength survey in the world, is the most comprehensive thus far, observing the energy output from over 200,000 galaxies and all wavelengths, from ultraviolet to infrared. By measuring the energy in the Universe, astronomers can determine the Universe's progress towards total darkness.

Opening quote
"While most of the energy sloshing around in the Universe arose in the aftermath of the Big Bang, additional energy is constantly being generated by stars as they fuse elements like hydrogen and helium together," Driver said, in an ESO statement. "This new energy is either absorbed by dust as it travels through the host galaxy, or escapes into intergalactic space and travels until it hits something, such as another star, a planet, or, very occasionally, a telescope mirror."
Closing quote


In the study, the researchers discovered that the energy output in the nearby Universe is approximately half what it was two billion years ago, and is fading across all wavelengths. As a result, the Universe is in a much later stage of life than we originally believed, and is in fact entering "old age."

Opening quote
"In other words, the Universe is slowly dying," said Dr. Luke Davies of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in the above video. "Just as we all become less active in our old age, the same is happening to the Universe, and it's well past its prime. Its active, athletic partying days are behind it."
Closing quote


So now, all we can do is wait. Slowly but inexorably, stars and galaxies will wink out of existence, and the Universe will meet its untimely end in approximately a googol (10^100) years.

Opening quote
"The Universe will decline from here on in, sliding gently into old age. The Universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze."
Closing quote
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