Tech UPTechnologyEvery year we lose a section of the universe

Every year we lose a section of the universe

Of course, these objects are not volatilizing, but are being pushed out of the known universe, forced into a mysterious expansion known as the “unobservable universe.”

However, to truly understand this fascinating sector of the cosmos, it is necessary to first understand two of the most amazing scientific discoveries ever made.

For millennia, humans have been wondering about the size and age of the universe. Will the cosmos live forever? Has it always been there or did some event make it come up?

In 1687, Isaac Newton inspired a new way of understanding the cosmos in his book Principia, which proposed the revolutionary universal law of gravitation. In its most basic formulation, the law explained that every mass in the universe is attracted to every other mass in the universe. While the idea seems simple enough, at the time the implications were staggering.

Newton’s work revealed that if our universe was finite, the attractive forces of all objects in the cosmos should have caused everything to collapse in on itself. Since that had not happened, it logically meant that the universe had to be infinite.

But because of something known as Olbers’ paradox , scientists knew that this did not end there. The German physician and astronomer Wilhelm Olbers argued that the darkness in the night sky conflicted with the conclusion that the cosmos is infinite. With dark spots in the night sky, the universe cannot be infinite.

Confrontation of the ideas of Newton and Olbers

In 1913, the American astronomer Vesto Slipher analyzed the spectral lines of distant galaxies and discovered that the light they emitted shifted towards the red end of the light spectrum, and things began to change. This was taken as evidence that the galaxies were moving away from us, as light spreads toward the red end of the spectrum when objects recede.

Building on Slipher’s work, Edwin Hubble measured the redshifts of galaxies and then compared them to their relative distance, and made a monumental discovery: the universe was expanding.

Once we take this into account, we can infer that the universe must have been smaller in the past, and if we traveled far enough back in time, the entire universe would have converged at a single point. This point, which we now call the Big Bang, was the beginning of the universe.

Using various models and estimates for the rate of expansion, such as the Hubble constant, the scientists estimated the age of the universe. Today, that figure is 13.799 million years old.

We finally have a good understanding of the age of the universe, and unfortunately that expansion means that we keep losing chunks of it.

The more distant galaxies seem to be moving away from us faster and faster as their distance from Earth increases.

This led to an irrefutable conclusion: the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

In particular, it is not that the edges of the universe are moving away from each other. Every portion of space is stretched. While light and matter have a maximum speed, the structure of space-time itself does not. The volumes of the universe can expand faster than light itself; Objects further away from us are moving away from us faster, as there is more space between us that is stretched.

The new calculations, which take into account the accelerating expansion of the universe, subsequently allowed us to determine that the observable universe actually has a radius of at least 46 billion light-years.

This is where the unobservable universe comes into play.

Due to accelerated expansion, regions of space that are far enough away from Earth are moving away from us faster than the speed of light. As it is, the light from these regions of the cosmos will never be able to reach us.

Ultimately, this means that even if we left Earth today and traveled at the speed of light, we could only reach a mere 3% of the total number of galaxies in our observable universe. The other 97% will always be out of reach.

And because the expansion of the universe is continually accelerating, each year more and more regions of space pass beyond our cosmic horizon and enter the unobservable universe. In time, all galaxies that are not gravitationally bound to us will vanish into the black abyss of the unobservable universe. And there is nothing we can do about it.

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