Billions of years from now, there will be so much dark energy pushing the universe apart, galaxies will be moving away from each other faster than the speed of light. Even with the most powerful telescopes, astronomers looking to the night sky would see only empty space—to them, the universe would appear to be a single solitary galaxy. And without distant galaxies to study, they’d have no idea about the Big Bang, dark matter, or even the dark energy that left them isolated and alone. But at least for now, we know these exist.
How the Universe Will End
Published June 20, 2018
Onscreen: Dark energy is spreading the universe apart faster and faster. What’s it mean for the future?
Talithia Williams: Imagine living on a planet, billions of years in the future, in a galaxy like the Milky Way. You’d look up at the night sky and see stars, as we see the stars of our own galaxy.
André Fenton: But even if you had the best technology possible, better than anything we could imagine…
Rana El Kaliouby: You wouldn’t be able to see any other galaxy. Only empty space.
Williams: The entire universe would appear a lot like scientists imagined it a hundred years ago—a single solitary galaxy. Alone. The ever-expanding universe would be completely invisible and out of reach.
Fenton: Without those distant galaxies to study, you’d have no idea of the big bang. Probably no hint of dark matter. and no clue about the existence of dark energy.
Williams: So, even though right now we don’t know exactly what the universe is made of, we still don’t know what dark matter and dark energy are, in some ways, we are incredibly lucky.
El Kaliouby: We live at a moment in the history of the universe when at least we know they exist.
Williams: Unlike those future inhabitants in a lonely galaxy, we have a mystery we can still try to solve.
- Digital Producer
- Ana Aceves
- NOVA WONDERS: WHAT’S THE UNIVERSE MADE OF?
- Produced and Directed by
- Kirk Wolfinger and Owen Palmquist
- © WGBH Educational Foundation 2018