Chronology of the Universe: From the Present to the Thermal Death

Chronology of the Universe: From the Present to the Thermal Death
  1. Modern Stellar Era (Present – 100 billion years into the future):
    • Next 5 billion years: The Sun expands into a red giant, engulfing Mercury and potentially Venus.
    • 7 billion years: The Sun sheds its outer layers, forming a planetary nebula, leaving behind a white dwarf.
    • 10 billion years: Formation of stars slows significantly in our galaxy due to depletion of gas.
    • 50 billion years: Many existing stars have evolved into white dwarfs, neutron stars, or black holes.
    • 100 billion years: The universe’s expansion makes distant galaxies unreachable and invisible due to the stretching of light.
  2. Degenerate Era (100 billion – 1 trillion years into the future):
    • 120 billion years: The last generation of sun-like stars exhaust their nuclear fuel.
    • 200 billion years: Star formation becomes exceedingly rare.
    • 500 billion years: White dwarfs cool to become black dwarfs. Collisions between stellar remnants may create occasional novae.
  3. Era of Black Holes (1 trillion – 10^40 years into the future):
    • 1 trillion years: Galaxy clusters lose their definition as member galaxies drift apart.
    • 10^20 years: Even the longest-lived stars have exhausted their fuel and decayed into black dwarfs, neutron stars, or black holes.
    • 10^40 years: Evaporation of smaller black holes through Hawking radiation. Only supermassive black holes remain.
  4. Dark Era (Beyond 10^40 years into the future):
    • 10^65 years: Proton decay, if it occurs, reduces all ordinary matter to subatomic particles and radiation.
    • 10^100 years: Even the largest black holes have evaporated. The universe is a cold, dark, and nearly empty expanse filled with low-energy photons and particles.
  5. Thermal Death of the Universe:
    • Indeterminate future: The universe reaches a state of maximum entropy. No energy gradients remain to sustain motion or life. It’s an era of eternal darkness and cold.
  6. Speculative Future Events and Theories:
    • Big Rip Scenario: If dark energy continues to accelerate the universe’s expansion, it could eventually tear apart all structures, including atoms.
    • Big Crunch Possibility: The universe might reverse its expansion, leading to a catastrophic collapse.
    • Cyclic Universe Theory: A collapse might be followed by another Big Bang, suggesting an eternal cycle of birth, death, and rebirth of universes.

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