The Universe, Ripping us a New One

As scary as it seems, we might be learning more about how our universe will end…

In a combined study, Astrophysicists from across America and Australia have recently reduced the uncertainty of the Hubble Constant from 3.3% to 2.4%. This means in 9.8 billions years the distance between cosmic objects will double!

Wait… What?

Well to put it in other words, we know the expansion of our universe is accelerating (cheers Schmidtty), and the rate of which is called the Hubble Constant. Contributing scientists to the recent research paper have used Wide Field Camera 3 technology on the Hubble Space telescope, and combined it with Infrared observations of Cepheid variable stars from 11 galaxies!

The Hubble Space Telescope

So basically, Astrophysicists took pictures of distant galaxies over a period of time and combined this with what is called red shift – that noise a car makes when zooming past you – but in this case for a star moving away.

But what does this have to do with the end of life, the universe and everything?

There is great debate about how our universe will end amongst scientists and astronomy enthusiasts, spurred from the “discovery” of the Big Bang. Keeping in mind that these debates are simply ideas and scientists don’t know nearly enough about matter and the fabric of space-time to actually prove anything.

Now don’t freak out – the ultimate end of our universe will not occur for billions of years, but…

Here are the 4 contested ideas of how such event will occur:

  • It won’t.
    Yes there is hope for the optimists of our world; some scientists do believe that the expansion of our universe will continue forever, on a slight acceleration – and not amounting to anything.
  • The Big Crunch.
    This is the idea that “shortly” after the big bang, the universe will contract and crunch all matter and energy into a singularity. This theory was developed before the discovery that the expansion of our universe is accelerating – but should be noted anyway
  • The Big Rip
    Not to be forward, but this is the most logical. Seeing as research has found our universe to be accelerating and recently measured to be faster than previously thought – a likely possibility is that our universe will expand faster and faster until the very fabric of space-time will rip, creating a new big bang in and of itself.
  • The Big Freeze
    This idea is based on the argument that the acceleration of expansion will slow down – ultimately ending in a decrease of all energy, freezing our entire universe to a solid mass of nothingness. Lovely, I know.

So why is this research relevant?

Our universe is like a giant balloon. If we pump in air faster and faster, it will eventually pop. Although in this case, the universe releases an infinite amount of energy – similar to that when the singularity first exploded. This research has found that the universe is accelerating faster than we thought – allowing scientists to further prove how the universe could rip itself apart in a blaze of glory!

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