All things come to an end, even the universe according to a new study. Scientists confirmed with extraordinary precision that the universe is dying with the rate of stars fading out outpacing the creation of new stars.
An international team of about 100 scientists used the world’s strongest telescopes and studied data from about 220,000 galaxies. Many of the galaxies gave the observers a glimpse into the distant past because they were so far away it took billions of years for their light to reach us.
Their conclusion: the universe is only emitting about half the light it was about two billion years ago, and that trend will continue.
Astronomers have long believed that the universe was dying based on dimming ultraviolet light, but the new study, part of the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, confirms that the lights are going out at all wavelengths.
Researcher Simon Driver from the University of Western Australia explained the basic timeline to the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s going to be a long process; I guess we’ve got worse things to worry about at some level. In about 5 billion years the sun is going to swell up and swallow the Earth; in about 10 billion years it’s going to collide with the nearest [major] galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy; and in about 100 billion years the universe will be so expanded and producing so little light that we basically won’t see anything.”
Just because the universe is dead doesn’t mean it will no longer be here according to CNN. Astronomer Luke Davies explained it will simply stop converting matter into energy until it’s a “cold, dark and desolate place.”
As another astronomerr, Joe Liske, put it, “the universe is curling up on the sofa and becoming a couch potato.”
The Guardian reports the scientists took their data from an area of the sky as big as 1000 full moons and included galaxies as close as 500 million light years away and as far as seven billion light years.
The universe is believed to be about 13.8 billion years old, and it reached its peak about 8 billion years ago. Now it’s scheduled for a long dying process, in complete contrast to its birth.
Scientists believe that the universe was born in a tiny fraction of a second, when all matter and energy came ripping out from the Big Bang.
That matter culminated into dust clouds, stars, and galaxies that currently light the night sky, along with some extraordinarily bright events like supernovas. But as the universe continues its dying process, the last objects emitting light will be small, barely visible red stars.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]