Universe's Fate: Cold, Dead Wasteland

Amount of dark energy suggests it will expand forever
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2010 8:15 AM CDT
This image provided by NASA shows a long-exposure Hubble Space Telescope image of the majestic face-on spiral galaxy NGC4911.   (AP Photo/NASA)
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(Newser) – Scientists say they've learned "exactly what the fate of the universe will be," and it doesn't sound pleasant. A team led by a NASA astronomer predicts the universe will continue to expand forever and eventually will become a cold, dead wasteland, the BBC reports. How did they arrive at this cheery conclusion? By using a "galactic lens" to calculate the amount of dark energy in the cosmos.

Invisible dark energy makes up three-quarters of the universe and works to speed up its expansion. In order to measure it, scientists used the Hubble telescope to observe how light from distant stars was distorted around a cluster of galaxies. The cluster acted like a giant magnifying glass, distorting light and allowing the distribution of dark energy to be calculated. The conclusion: infinite expansion and cold approaching temperatures of absolute zero. Want to read more about this dark energy stuff? Click here.

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