by Zeanne M
The universe as we know it is fading away, right before our very eyes. A study conducted by the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) shows that compared to 2 billion years ago, stars in our universe are producing almost half the amount of energy.
This leaves us with only one outcome for the future: eventually, we will reach a state of maximal entropy, or in other words, the death of the universe. The main proof of this is the decreased rate in star formation.
The universe is getting darker
GAMA’s study looked at around 200,000 galaxies and measured the amount of energy they produced in wavelengths, from ultraviolet to far-infrared. Their findings showed that the energy output had dropped drastically compared to the original amount.
Another study conducted at Cornell University showed that the current rate of star formation is only 3% of what it was at its likely peak (around 11 billion years ago). Some of the most massive stars were born recently after the Big Bang. The stars that were born after this period got increasingly smaller and dimmer, with time. We live in a universe dominated by older, brighter stars. As a result, when these stars die, we won’t have any noticeably bright ones left.
Less opportunity for life
The chances of having habitable places for life in the future is decreasing due to the decline of bright star formation. To consider a planet “habitable” in our universe, it needs to have stable ground and an energy source (from a mother star).
The most popular stars in the universe are red dwarfs, and they have very little mass and luminosity. However, they have a strong magnetic field that emits large amounts of x-ray and UV radiation. Unlike other stars, red dwarfs age incredibly slowly. As a result, this dangerous magnetic field is active for longer periods of time. This destroys the atmosphere of more nearby planets. This makes those planets permanently inhabitable, no matter which star they decide to orbit next.
Why we shouldn’t worry
The main reason for the decline of the universe is that most of the action took place closely after the Big Bang. And like most things, whatever lives, must die eventually. This “maximal entropy” that our universe will face is inevitable. However, we still have a long way ahead of us. We can never truly know when the universe will fade, but it would take at least a couple billion years, if not more.
Personally, I’m not too worried about this at all, as there are many issues that are more important. Forget the billion years, if we don’t take care of climate change soon, we will face irreversible damage in the next 10! I also think it would be more productive for scientists to learn more about foreign galaxies, along with continuing their searches for life on different planets. Besides all this, we’ve only uncovered 4% of the universe. Learning more about the unknown universe can contribute to our current knowledge on the decline that we will eventually face.