The Universe

The End of the Universe

What do scientists believe will ultimately happen to matter and energy in the universe?

The acceleration of the expansion of the universe is carrying all matter ever farther apart on cosmic scales. Eventually, gravity will not be able to overcome that expansion to form new, large structures. Some calculations even suggest that within a few billion years distant galaxies will no longer be observable to us. Then, all the stars in the universe will consume their raw materials and burn out, leaving stellar corpses throughout the cosmos. Those corpses—mostly white dwarfs and neutron stars—and all the other baryonic matter in the universe will then, if current ideas of particle physics are correct, undergo proton decay and disintegrate. Finally, the black holes in the universe will emit Hawking radiation until they evaporate completely. All that will be left will then be dark matter, dark energy, and a whole lot of disordered subatomic particles that pretty much do nothing.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Astronomy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App