Death: how will the universe die?

One day you will die. After seconds or a thousand years, it doesn’t matter. Your body and all its components will cease to function and reunite with the Earth as ordinary, lifeless material. Earth, too, will die, enveloped in an expanding, aging Sun. The sun will burn all its fuel, turn into a white dwarf, then it will burn out and die. The Milky Way collides with Andromeda and forms a giant elliptical galaxy, which will die, having lost all its stars in intergalactic space.

The corpses of these remaining stars will die decayingto its constituent parts. The Universe will age until all matter is in black holes or floats in the form of free elementary particles. These black holes will evaporate and the universe will die. Everything that was will become cold nothing, forever.

How the Universe Will Die

This ending is one of the happiest"Thermal death", it is the death of heat, which at least leaves us time to say goodbye. The truth is that the Universe is much older than people, it was long before us and will be a long time after us, and we most likely will not have to contemplate its death. Because we are insignificant. We can only study physics and have fun, waiting for our reunion with the Earth.

“We can try to understand this, but influence at leastsomehow, no, ”said Katie Mack, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina. “We will not inherit space. This is an interesting concept. ”

Thermal death, or "great freezing," usuallyseen as the most likely future based on what things look like today. The universe is expanding and will continue to expand. As the universe develops, stars will form less and less due to rarefaction of dust and gas. The last black holes will slowly evaporate, losing energy during Hawking radiation, possibly for 10,100 years. After some time, the remaining particles will decay, and the whole universe will take an average temperature of almost absolute zero. The Universe, in its essence, will be so large and meager that the chances of finding at least something in it will be practically zero.

Of course, all this will happen soon. If people survive their own desire for self-destruction, the Earth’s atmosphere will exist for another billion years, and the Sun for another 7-10 billion years, after which it will become a red giant, eject its outer layers and remain a luminous core the size of the Earth, but much heavier. This is a white dwarf. Small red stars can last another hundred trillion years, notes John Baez, a physicist at the University of California at Riverside. Perhaps people will be able to move to one of the planets near the red dwarf like Proxima Centauri in order to live out their days. These time scales are beyond human understanding - just try to imagine how long it will take to overcome the universe in its current size, if you stop and count each atom in its path.

“This picture is probably very sad,” says Baez. “People are animals that think about the future, and we like to think of life as a story with a happy ending.”

Thermal death of the universe or something else?

Some much more eventfulthe theoretical destinies of the universe may overtake it much earlier. For example, the Big Break. As you know, in 1998, scientists discovered that the universe was not just expanding, but expanding faster and faster. They suggested that behind the accelerated expansion is some kind of energy, which seems to be inherent in the vacuum of the Universe - dark energy. There is a possibility that in 100 billion years, dark energy will cause the universe to expand so fast that it will tear galaxies, solar systems, planets and atoms before they lose energy on their own. The space between each individual point will grow indefinitely. Theoretical physicists rely on the thermal death of the universe, but who knows how it actually ends, observations do not prohibit other options.

There is also a chance that the vacuum itself will Perhaps the "Higgs field", penetrating the universe and endowing subatomic particles with mass, is not in the lowest energy configuration. Perhaps it is “metastable” in nature and is a lower-energy state to which it can decay. Imagine that you spend your whole life living on a platform and think that you are on solid ground - this platform is in a metastable state. Once this platform collapses and shows the true bottom hundreds of meters below itself. The laws of physics known to us will stop working, you will fall down and die. This can happen if the universe moves from a metastable state to a more stable one - if we have been on the platform all this time. The universe will come to an end because this new lower-energy universe cannot sustain the existence of the current Standard Model, all of these particles that make up matter. It is unlikely, however, that this event will occur before thermal death. But it would be beautiful.

“In some place of the Universe a bubble will be borna true vacuum that will expand at the speed of light and swallow the universe, destroying everything, ”says Mack. The light speed of this event means that you will not see it on the way - death will be instant.

However, not all possible cosmic outcomesassociated with devastation and emptiness. Perhaps, in some distant future, the vacuum energy of the universe spontaneously jumps and initiates inflation at this point in space, from which completely new universes will begin to form. Alan Gut, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who invented the theory of space inflation, foresaw such a turn of events. Maybe this is how our Universe was formed. Perhaps an infinite number of universes have formed in this way. Perhaps, beyond the reach of our own universe, there are many places that its demise will not affect.

“This is the most optimistic theory, because even if our part of the universe dies, other parts, possibly preserving life, will exist forever,” says Gut. In any case, our universe will die.

Dark energy may not be inherentspace constant. Perhaps her power will fall, which will ultimately slow down the expansion of the universe. The force of gravity will again take possession and everything collapses with a “big crunch”.

There is a lot that we don’t know about the universe,therefore, any of these ideas may be true. Any new discovery about the nature of dark energy, the Higgs boson, or space-time itself can reveal a completely different fate of the Universe, in which worlds collapse or arise, infinities intertwine and time freezes. Humanity will be doomed, regardless of whether it wants it or not.

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