New study tracks the death of our Universe
A new study hasmeasured 200,000 galaxies in an effort to chart the rate at which ourUniverse is outputting energy, and effectively dying. The study ispart of the larger Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, acomprehensive spectroscopic survey seeking to create a model ofenergy production by the Universe, both in the present day and intimes past.
The ambitious surveymade use of the three orbital telescopes, GALEX, Herschel and WISE,along with a host of ground-based observatories and survey data. Thecombination of these facilities and resources allowed GAMA to measurethe energy output of the sample galaxies in 21 wavelengths rangingfrom ultraviolet to the far infrared.
Some of the energydetected by the telescopes was created in the Big Bang andsubsequently locked up in mass, which is today released via thenuclear fusion reaction that takes place at the heart of every star.Other sources of energy emission include the vast disks of super hotmaterials surrounding black holes, quasars, and the massive dustclouds that re-radiate absorbed stellar energy.
The sheer range ofenergy being measured by the GAMA study renders it superior to otherforerunner surveys that have attempted to map the Universe using onlya narrow wavelength range. GAMA has been able to assume a morepanchromatic approach thanks to rapid technological advancements inthe field of astronomy and logistics, and a leviathan collaborationinvolving nearly 100 scientists from over 30 universities.
Based on theinformation from the sample galaxies, the study concludes that theenergy being output by our Universe has reduced by half in roughlytwo billion years across all wavelengths from the ultraviolet to theinfrared. The results of the study support what has been suspectedsince the late 1990s – that the lights are going out, and that ourUniverse is slowly dying.
"The Universe willdecline from here on in, sliding gently into old age," concludesSimon Driver, head of the international GAMA team. "The Universehas basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is aboutto nod off for an eternal doze.”
The informationcollected by the study has now been released to the astronomicalcommunity, with the researchers hoping to leverage state of the artfacilities such as the planned Square Kilometre Array tomap energy production over the complete history of our Universe.
Scroll down for afly-through of the GAMA Galaxy Survey. Note that the distancesbetween galaxies is accurate though the galaxies themselves have beenenlarged for better viewing.