The majority of us like to think that there is something greater than us, something more powerful, that holds the world together and that lives on beyond eons, into eternity. Some of us found that comfort with God while some scientists have found it with the Universe.
But a team of astronomers has come to a fascinating, yet frightening conclusion: the world as we know it, like all things, will end. The Universe that science clings to is dying slowly, but surely, which means that all we know and all that we do not know will cease to exist.
Simon Driver, who works at the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research, explained that they made an effort to study around 200 thousand galaxies dispersed as much as possible in order to determine the energy that is present in the Universe. They estimated that the energy is only 50 percent of what it was 2 billion years ago.
This is not exactly bad news when we think about the fact that there could be billions of human generations within 2 billion years, but the truth is that all that energy is gone. The experiment “measured each galaxy at 21 wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the far infrared” and gave good insight as to how galaxies were formed.
What is worrying is that Driver explained how the Big Bang released a tremendous amount of energy into space, which was also accompanied by energy released from stars which would fuse hydrogen and helium.
Driver thinks that this energy has a few ways of dispersing: it can be absorbed by dust, it passes through intergalactic space until it hits another star and he also said that the energy occasionally hits a telescope mirror. Either way, energy is disappearing and there is absolutely nothing anybody can do about it.
This phenomenon was not isolated as it could be identified “across all wavelengths from ultraviolet to the infrared”. Driver concluded that the whole process is as if the Universe went to bed and is waiting for its inevitable demise.
If you are interested in a more in-depth explanation of the study, it is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal.
As mentioned before, there is no need to panic or to think about what catastrophe could occur when the Universe will be completely drained of energy. Humanity might as well be gone in the next one billion years, but it is interesting to know that something so big and so powerful can ultimately be so fragile.
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