Has the universe ever made a mistake before

Finish with a big bang: explosions at the end of the universe

The final chapter in the history of our universe looks pretty grim. Physicists currently assume that at some point, in billions of years, all stars will have died out. Then darkness descends over the universe and robs it of any ability to develop. With the expansion of the universe, the matter expands with it and thus less and less energy is available. At some point, after aeons, the universe then goes through a scenario called heat death.

But before the lights go out once and for all, there could be one last fireworks display. Astronomers believe that compact stars called white dwarfs are one of the last remaining objects to survive in the aging universe. A paper has now been accepted for publication in the scientific magazine "Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society", which assumes that these stars will possibly undergo an infinitely slow nuclear fusion, which will end in the form of supernova explosions.

The idea of ‚Äč‚Äčexploding white dwarfs is entirely new, as science classifies these burned-out stars as "steadily cooling," says Abigail Polin, an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology and Carnegie Observatories who was not involved in the study.

Based on the new model, the first white dwarf explosion will not occur until at least 101100 Years due. That's a 1 followed by 1,100 zeros - a number so big we don't have a name for it. "If you write that out, you fill a whole sheet of paper with zeros," says study author Matt Caplan, an astrophysicist at Illinois State University. (The age of the universe is currently only 13.7 billion years.)

"That is beyond any scale that we can currently imagine," agrees Polin. But if Caplan is right, these explosions would be the final, great, astrophysical events before everything goes into darkness.

Operation with space fuel

Stars burn by fusing hydrogen and helium inside. When an average star, about the size of our sun or a little more, has used up all of its hydrogen, it can no longer oppose its own gravity. Then the core begins to contract while the outer layers expand dramatically. As the core gets smaller, the pressure and temperature increase, allowing the heavier elements to bond together. At some point the star then sheds its outer shell, and what remains is an extremely compact object a few kilometers in diameter - a white dwarf.