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    The multi-wavelength survey measured the energy generated in 200,000 galaxies.

    Fade to Black: Study Shows the Universe is Slowly Dying

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    Researchers who measured the energy of 200,000 galaxies discovered that their energy is slowly fading, and is now only half that of two billion years ago.

    The universe has only half the energy it had two billion years ago, according to a multi-wavelength survey of the energy generated in 200,000 of its galaxies, carried out as part of the Galaxy and Mass Assembly research project on galaxy formation and evolution. 

    "The Universe is fated to decline from here on in, like an old age that lasts forever. The Universe has basically plonked itself down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze," 

    Professor Simon Driver, leader of the international team of astronomers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research [ICRAR] in Western Australia that carried out the research, described the findings.

    "We used as many space and ground-based telescopes we could get our hands on, to measure the energy output of over 200,000 galaxies across as broad a wavelength range as possible," he explained.

    This composite picture shows how a typical galaxy appears at different wavelengths in the GAMA survey
    © Photo : ICRAR/GAMA and ESO
    This composite picture shows how a typical galaxy appears at different wavelengths in the GAMA survey.
    The astronomers used seven of the world’s most powerful telescopes to observe galaxies at 21 different wavelengths, from the far ultraviolet to the far infrared. 

    Professor Driver, who presented his findings at the International Astronomical Union’s General Assembly in Honolulu last week, said the aim of the study was to map and model all of the energy generated within a set volume of space.

    "While most of the energy sloshing around was created in the aftermath of the Big Bang, additional energy is constantly being released by stars as they fuse elements like hydrogen and helium together," he explains. 

    "This newly released energy is either absorbed by dust as it travels through the host galaxy, or escapes into intergalactic space and travels until it hits something such as another star, planet, or very occasionally a telescope mirror."

    Since the late 1990s scientists have been aware that the energy of the universe, which is estimated to be 13.82 billion years old, is slowly fading. The latest study is the most comprehensive to measure the phenomenon, and found it occurring across all wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the infrared.

    The study forms part of the GAMA project, the largest ever multi-wavelength survey which aims to study galaxy clusters, groups, mergers, bulges and discs, in order to better understand the structure of the Universe, its formation and subsequent evolution.

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