Scientists have been hard at work measuring the Death of the Universe – albeit it is a slow death.An international team of astronomers has studied more than 200,000 galaxies measuring the energy generated in a large area of space with more precision than ever before. It represents the most comprehensive assessment of the energy output of the Universe ever and they have found that energy in the Universe today is only about half what it was two billion years ago! And what’s most alarming is that the have found that this is occurring across all wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the far infrared and the conclusion is that the Universe is dying a slow measurable death. “We used as many space and ground-based telescopes we could get our hands on, to measure the energy output of over 200,000 galaxies across as broad a wavelength range as possible,” says ICRAR Professor Simon Driver, who spoke at the International Astronomical Union’s General Assembly in Honolulu.
Altogether they observed galaxies at 21 different wavelengths from the far ultraviolet to the far infrared by using seven of the world’s most powerful telescopes manned by researchers from ICRAR, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, located in Western Australia.
The research is part of the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, the largest multi-wavelength survey ever put together.
The Big Bang created all the energy in the Universe and some portion is locked up as mass which where Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2 or explains why stars shine by converting this mass into energy.
“While most of the energy sloshing around was created in the aftermath of the Big Bang, additional energy is constantly being released by stars as they fuse elements like hydrogen and helium together,” Professor Driver says. This newly released 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, planet, or very occasionally a telescope mirror.”
It’s been know since the 1990’s that the Universe, but this research demonstrates that all wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the infrared are impacted providing the , most comprehensive assessment of the energy output of the Universe.
“The Universe is fated to decline from here on in, like an old age that lasts forever. The Universe has basically plonked itself down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze,” Professor Driver says.