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An Eternal Universe

If the universe does not contain enough matter to stop its expansion it will continue to expand forever.

Using the currently understood laws of physics we can project into the future what the Universe may look like in very distant eras. Two astrophysicists at the University of Michigan have outlined the future history of the Universe.

They have divided the future into Eras. The current Era is known as the Stelliferous or Star-Filled era. In this era the Universe is filled with stars and galaxies and planets as it is today. At the end of this era all stars have exhausted their fuel and have died leaving behind only remnants of their once glorious era.

The next era is known as the Degenerate era. In this era the universe is made of dead planets, brown dwarfs, white dwarfs, nuetron stars, black holes, and some theoretical forms of dark matter. At the end of this era all protons, which compose the nuclei of all atoms, disintigrate.

The next Era is the Black Hole era because black holes will be the only gravitaionally important objects left in the universe. However, Black holes do not last forever. They evaporate by a strange radiation process.

After that the Universe shall be composed of only radiation and particles which have an infinite lifetime such as electrons, positrons, and neutrinos. From this point on interesting things might continue to happen but we have reached the limits of our knowledge.

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The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store.

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Neutron Stars

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White Dwarfs

When stars like our own sun die they will become white dwarfs. As a star like our sun is running out of fuel in its core it begins to bloat into a red giant. This will happen to our sun in 5 Billion years....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA