Time, the Universe and the Whole Darn Thing!
Part Two: The Fate of the Universe
By Allan EastmanGo back to Page 2
Cosmic Jet Lag
We rotate around the center of the Galaxy at about 220 kilometers per second (about 136 miles per second). This means that every hour, we have traveled about 792,000 kilometers (c. 490,000 miles), every day about 19 Million kilometers (about 11.8 Million miles) and we cover about 7 Billion kilometers or 4.35 Billion miles every year! No wonder we’re all so tired all the time – maybe we’re all just suffering from a form of cosmic jet lag.
It takes between 225 and 250 Million years for the Sun to complete 1 revolution around the Galaxy so it has only made about 20 to 25 orbits since its formation and less than 1/1000th of an orbit since Human forms have evolved on Earth.
Big Changes Coming
The first major change for our Galaxy and the Universe in general is that the clouds of gas formed in the Big Bang and through Super Novae explosions are being used up by star formation. In our Galaxy, all the available gas will be used in just the next few Billion years. This starts the Milky Way and the other Galaxies on the road to a far different kind of Universe than we see now.
Except for the Local Group of Galaxies – prime among them, the nearby Andromeda Galaxy – all the Galaxies we see are moving away from us as the fabric of Space expands from the Big Bang. At the furthest edge that we can see – objects that are 46 Billion Light Years away – the Galaxies are moving away at close to the speed of light, and accelerating. We cannot see further than that but some Astronomers think that the Universe is about 150 Billion Light Years in Diameter. But you and I will never know what is going on out there.
The effect of all this on the Universe as viewed from Earth is that over Time, things will appear very different to an observer here. The Milky Way will merge with the Andromeda Galaxy and the rest of the Local Group under mutual gravitational attraction to form one gigantic Galaxy. However, by about 100 Billion years on, all the other Galaxies we can presently see will have receded over the speed of light horizon and will be no longer visible from Earth.
If the Human race stays in the local neighborhood or fails, any new civilization coming to knowledge after that time would observe that they truly are alone in the Universe with only the stars in their one local Galaxy representing all they think exists anywhere in creation.
Moving on in Time, the Universe itself is decaying and winding down as it uses up all of its resources. By 1 Trillion years on, all of the stars like our Sun have burned through their nuclear processes and are gone. Red Giants remain but after about 7-8 Trillion years, they too are turning into White and Black Dwarf stars.
By 100 Trillion years into the future, all of the stars in the Universe have burned out. It is a dark and cold place.
Yet Hope remains.