Our universe has lost half of its energy, and it is now dying. The universe seems never-ending, but a group of astronomers have discovered that it is losing its twinkle. Scientists analyzed energy output of over 200,000 galaxies and concluded that their energy was only about half of what it was two billion years ago. Findings of the study were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The universe is sliding into old age
They found that old stars are dying much faster than new stars are being born to replace them. Simon Driver of the University of Western Australia and lead author of the study said that the universe is “sliding gently into old age.” In the next few billion years, it will lose its shine in a phenomenon called universal dimming. The rate of star formation peaked about eight billion years ago, and has slowed considerably since then.
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Most of the energy in the universe was created in the aftermath of the Big Bang, with some energy locked up as mass. Stars convert mass back into energy, which gives them shine. Scientists used some of the world’s most powerful telescopes to look at 21 wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the far infrared to measure the energy output of galaxies.
It is not going to go black anytime soon
Driver said the new energy released through conversion of mass is either absorbed by dust while traveling through the host galaxy, or enters the inter-galactic space and travels until it hits another star, planet or some other object. They found that it was happening across all 21 wavelengths. Simon Driver said the universe has now “sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze.”
Astronomers have known since the late 1990s that the universe is slowing dying. But the latest study is the most comprehensive assessment of the energy output of the universe. Will Sutherland of the University of London said the universe was not going to “go black anytime soon.” But it will eventually fade, and then there will be little red stars that shine away for an extended period of time.