The History (and Future) of the Universe

Start­ing at 10-25 seconds after the start of the uni­verse (infla­tion) and end­ing 1015 years later (with the ulti­mate fate of the uni­verse), the timeline of the uni­verse is an incom­pre­hens­ibly long and fas­cin­at­ing one. To help under­stand the forces that led to life as we know it and to get an idea of what’s going to hap­pen in the (dis­tant) future, the­or­et­ic­al astro­phys­i­cist Eth­an Siegel has broken down the details in a won­der­fully access­ible and enlight­en­ing com­plete his­tory of the uni­verse (with pic­tures!).

Those last couple of steps on the timeline are par­tic­u­larly hum­bling:

100 bil­lion years: the Uni­verse has expan­ded so much that our loc­al group, hav­ing merged into a giant ellipt­ic­al galaxy, is the only one left in the vis­ible Uni­verse!

We’ve got a long time left of stars going through the great cos­mic life-cycle, burn­ing their fuel, explod­ing, trig­ger­ing star form­a­tion, and burn­ing their new fuel. But this is lim­ited; there’s only a finite amount of hydro­gen and oth­er ele­ments to burn via nuc­le­ar fusion. The skies will even­tu­ally go com­pletely dark, as the last of the dim, red dwarf stars (the longest-lived ones) exhaust their fuel.

1015 years: the last bit of hydro­gen is burned up, and our entire Uni­verse goes dark, being pop­u­lated only by black holes, neut­ron stars, and degen­er­ate dwarf stars, which even­tu­ally them­selves cool, fade, and turn black.

And that’s the entire Uni­verse, from the very begin­ning of what we can sens­ibly say about it to the far dis­tant future!

via @Foomandoonian

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