The stars will continue to explode long after the universe is cold and “dead”, a scientist set to dive into the rabbit hole to find the last supernova that will ever happen.
When the universe as we know it “dies” will be “a sad, lonely, cold place,” said theoretical physicist Matt Caplan, an assistant professor of physics at Illinois State University. said in a statement. In a new study, Caplan calculated how dead stars could change over time and determined when the last supernova would erupt into the distant future of the universe.
The end of the universe is “known as the ‘death of heat’, where the universe will be mostly black holes and burning stars,” Caplan explained in the statement. “I became physical for a reason. I wanted to think about the big questions – why is the universe here and how will it end?”
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In the new study, Caplan looked to the future of stellar explosions. Massive stars explode in supernovae when iron builds up at their core, accumulating and causing the star to collapse. But smaller stars such as white dwarfs – the ultradense stellar corpses that form when sunny stars run out of all their nuclear fuel – do not have the gravity and density to produce this iron. However, Caplan discovered that, over time, white dwarfs could become denser and become “black dwarf” stars that could actually produce iron.
“As white dwarfs cool down over the next few trillion years, they will fade, eventually freeze solid, and become ‘black dwarf’ stars that no longer shine,” Caplan said. “Stars glow because of thermonuclear fusion – they are hot enough to hit small nuclei together to make larger nuclei, which release energy. White dwarfs are ash, they are burned out, but fusion reactions can still occur due to quantum tunneling, only much slower “.
Quantum tuning is a phenomenon in which a subatomic particle “tunnels” through an obstacle that seems impossible to penetrate when it disappears and reappears on the other side of the barrier.
Caplan noted that this fusion is essential for creating iron within black dwarfs and causing this type of supernova.
New study shows how many black iron dwarfs of different sizes would have to create in order to explode. Caplan estimated that the first of these “black dwarf supernovae” would erupt in about 10 to 1,1000 years – an almost inconceivable number. “For years, it’s like saying the word ‘trillion’ almost a hundred times. If you wrote it, it would take up most of a page. It’s very far-fetched in the future,” he said.
He discovered that the largest black dwarfs will explode first, followed by fewer and less massive stars until there are no more left, which he expects to be at about 10 ^ 3,2000 years. “It’s hard to imagine anything coming after that,” he said. “The black dwarf supernova could be the last interesting thing to happen in the universe. It could be the last supernova ever.”
So how will the universe be “sad, lonely” at this point, after the last supernova has erupted? According to Caplan, “Galaxies will be scattered, black holes will have evaporated, and the expansion of the universe will have pulled all the objects left so far away so that no one will ever see any of the others explode. “It will not be physically possible for light to travel that far.”
This study was published August 7th in the diary Monthly Announcements of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Email Chelsea Gohd to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.