Scientists have warned that Earth could one day be stranded and “left alone” as the universe expands rapidly.
And the American astronomer Edwin Hubble and others discovered in the 1920s that the universe is expanding, and they showed that most galaxies escape from the Milky Way, and the farther away from it, the faster it escapes. Here, Hubble determined the roughly constant ratio between speed and distance, known as the Hubble constant.
For every additional megaparsec (a measure of distance equal to 1 million parsecs or 3.26 million light years) of distance, Hubble found that galaxies recede at 500 kilometers per second (310 miles per second) as they move away from Earth a million parsecs.
Therefore, the value of the Hubble constant is set at 500 kilometers per second per megaparsec. Over the years, astronomers have significantly revised this estimate as techniques improved.
But Hubble laid the foundations for what scientists know today, and through NASA’s telescope of the same name, the Hubble Space Telescope was able to astronomers look into the depths of the universe, and the telescope allowed scientists to move forward and note that the universe is already expanding.
But, according to Professor David Kaiser of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the universe is not just expanding and expanding. Speaking during the BBC’s series “Universe: Where everything begins and ends,” Kaiser said: “It is actually getting bigger and faster.”
Most observations indicate that the expansion of the universe will continue forever. If so, the popular theory claims that the universe will cool down as it expands and eventually become too cold to sustain life.
This could, in the end, leave planets like Earth alone, suspended in space, in the face of freezing days. This is what Professor Larry Gladney of Yale University suggested during the documentary series.
He said: “We can well imagine that the universe will continue to expand and become so large that galaxies will eventually disappear. It will be so far away from us and moving so fast that we have no hope of seeing any light from it. This is a real possibility of what could happen in the future.”
And dark energy, the mysterious force that’s accelerating the rate of expansion of our universe, can force the space between groups of galaxies to grow at an ever-increasing rate.
With this in mind, some theories suggest a scenario called “heat death” may occur.
This scenario was put forward as the ultimate fate of the universe, indicating that it could evolve into a state in which there is no thermal energy and therefore would not be able to sustain processes that increase entropy, a measure of the amount of energy unavailable to do something (a measure of chaos within a system ).
Scientists, through means such as the Hubble Space Telescope, have collected a great deal of information about the universe. They used these observations, as well as previous calculations, to develop a model now known as the Big Bang to help explain the formation and evolution of the universe.
This model states that about 13.8 billion years ago, all matter in the universe was concentrated in one very small point. From this precise point, the entire universe expanded outward to what exists today.
According to Professor Brian Cox, who also spoke during the documentary series, there was a time before the Big Bang, when matter was not present at all. All that existed was space-time and an ocean of energy, still roughly but stretching slowly.
Prof Cox said we should visualize this place as a “quasi-constant ocean of energy, filling the void”.
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