The universe is dying a slow and shuddering death, which is nice

11 Aug 2015

Well it’s official. The universe is definitely dying, but new research has shown for the first time that it’s happening across all wavelengths and is reaching its end stages.

The idea that the universe is dying is not technically a totally new concept, having first been suggested nearly 20 years ago, but this latest research appears to confirm that it’s happening across all wavelengths, but very slowly.

This new survey of our universe encapsulated 200,000 known galaxies analysed by a team of international astronomers, which looked at their energy output over the past 2bn years.

Using the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) powerful Chile-based telescopes, the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) project was able to confirm that, today, the energy produced by galaxies is half of that produced 2bn years ago.

According to the ESO, the team analysed 21 wavelengths of light ranging from ultraviolet to infrared and, across the board, the telltale signs of energy depletion are evident.

Universe is dying wavelengths

This composite picture shows how a typical galaxy appears at different wavelengths in the GAMA survey. Image via ICRAR/GAMA and ESO

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“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,” said Simon Driver, head of the GAMA team.

“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.”

In an almost sad and depressing image, Driver compares our current existence in the universe as being equivalent to our final days, at least when looking at the amount of time experienced by the universe.

“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,” he said.

Nebula illustration via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic