Starts With A Bang

Ask Ethan #112: The very, very end of the Universe (Synopsis)

Image credit: Blinky’s Astro Blog, via https://blinkysastroblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/shock-i-reprocessed-my-m27-data/.

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.” –J.R.R. Tolkien

There’s a realization we all face at some point in our lives: that not only are we going to someday have our lives come to an end, but that everything that exists in the Universe will cease to be in its current form. All life will wither away, the last stars will burn out, the galaxies themselves will be driven apart from one another, the individual stars and planets will be ejected, and even the black holes left over will decay away into pure, cold radiation.

Image credit: XMM-Newton, ESA, NASA.

When all this passes away, what will be left? The fabric of space and time itself, which contains the entire Universe, and all the energy that’s ever been a part of it. None of that goes away, and all of it has the cosmic memory of whatever you did imprinted on it forever.

Image credit: Chris Kotsiopoulos, via http://www.greeksky.gr/greeksky/slides/Selections/album/slides/20100613MilkyWayChris.htm.

Go read the whole story on the deepest “Ask Ethan” ever tackled!