#Science: How the #universe could end and when?

How will the universe end? When will that happen? | QUORA, Ethan Oh, Amateur Scientist.


Nobody knows for sure how and when the universe will end.  It’s challenging — to say the least — to predict outcomes that are many orders of magnitude further into the future than all the time that has come before us.  If some “wild card” exception to the currently-understood laws of physics does not appear, then entropy will ceaselessly increase.  All of the energy and matter will have become so disordered and spread-out through the then massive cosmos that it will be unreachable.  Time, which is measured by the movement of matter and energy, will no longer be possible and will effectively cease to pass. This is called “the heat death” of the universe.

This will only happen after the red dwarfs, then neutron stars burn out. Even atoms, over very long spans of time will break down to hydrogen. Even the neutrons will fly away from there nuclei. Even the electrons will be lost. Then after all the light-giving sources fade (the neutron stars) the universe will enter its longest phase, many orders of magnitude longer than the 100 trillion years that came before it, as only black holes will remain. But even they will bleed away into space and fade.   If nothing stops it, the heat death of the universe will not occur until something like 10,000-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion years into the future.  More years than atoms in the universe!

The really important phase where ordered life is possible–the stelliferous era– will last something like 100 billion to a trillion years.  We’re just getting started!

Adwait Naravane

Abhishek Maniyar

Eventual fate of our universe depends upon overall energy contents and shape of the universe. Three possible scenarios are possible – Big rip, Big crunch and Big bounce – Ultimate fate of the universe – Wikipedia .

According to our current understanding, our universe is flat and we are in a regime of accelerated expansion. This accelerated expansion is being driven by a mysterious energy called ‘Dark Energy’ Dark energy – Wikipedia . The amount of Dark energy or matter content in the universe is given through cosmological density parameters which are ΩDEΩDE(which sometimes is represented as ΩΛΩΛ) and ΩmΩmfor dark energy and matter in the universe respectively. These two add up to 1. Current measurements show thatΩDE0.7ΩDE≈0.7and Ωm0.3Ωm≈0.3So we can clearly see that our universe is dominated by dark energy right now and our current understanding states that it will continue to accelerate and expand forever.

Ian McCullough

Who says that the universe has to end? Are you certain that it had a beginning? What if the universe just infinitely cycles through expansions and contractions like an eternally beating heart?

An Explanation for Everything by Ian McCullough on Ian’s Posts

There are many problems with this question. First of all: what is the Universe? We know only what we can observe. We can observe only a continuum in distance about 42 billion light years, and only handful of particles: photons, electrons, proton, neutrons and neutrinos. We know that there is more: we know that Universe is larger, possibly much larger. We know that there are particles and forces that we can not observe directly: dark matter and dark energy. We know that our current understanding of physics is incomplete. But what is the area of our ignorance? Maybe Universe is inifinitely large? Maybe it has additional dimensions? Maybe there are particles and forces even more exotic than dark matter and dark energy, that we still do not know about? Maybe there are laws of physics that we were unable to observe yet, because they manifest only in timespans of orders larger than 10^50 years?

All of what we can predict is an extrapolation of our current knowledge. We can extrapolate that after several trillion years all stars will burn out and Universe become dark. After 10^80 years all matter will decay, and only black holes remain, and after 10^100 years black holes also evaporate, leaving Universe consisting only of photons.

But these extrapolations are not justified. Our known laws of physics are not valid in such timespans, just like they are invalid inside black hole. Imagine for example that there exist a physical process that violates conservation of energy: each particle is duplicating itself every 10^60 years. Such phenomena would be completely undetectable for us, because it would mean that so far, since Earth formation probably only 1 Earth atom duplicated itself. But when we extrapolate into the future, then within 10^70 years this process would dominate in the Universe. Exponential growth of number of particles would fill Universe with matter, creating new stars and black holes, reversing Universe expansion etc. This shows that our predictions might be totally wrong because we do not know the crucial facts.

This is only one example. There is infinite number of possible laws and phenomenas that might determine Universe future. All of we can say is that Universe will last for many trillions of years. After that we must simply admit that its future is unknown to us.

Jeff Kay

Some fine answers here, just want to add a particuarly favorite speculation.

Robert Caldwell of Dartmouth College is the leading proponent of a theory popularly called “The Big Rip”.

Basically, it states that at the present rate of expansion, the universe, in about 20 billion years or so, will begin to experience the opposite of the Big Bang.

What is thought to happen is that all matter and energy in the universe will begin to break apart, in stages.  First, the super clusters of galaxies will break apart, then the galaxies themselves.  Eventally, all planetary systems, planets and stars, and, finally, all molecules, atoms and subatomic particles.

It sounds pretty far out, but considering how little we know anyway, it is just as valid as anything else on the table.

Dark Energy May Tear us Apart
Fate of the Universe

Dhiraj Khanal

A really interesting question! There are different theories and hypothesis on how the universe will end but it is really very difficult to tell when.

Four scenarios by which the universe could end:

The Big Rip:

It says that dark energy keeps pulling the universe apart at an ever accelerating speed, until everything in the universe including atom, pull itself apart. Big Rip models are allowed, but not preferred because they need a heck of understanding about dark energy. So, it is not that plausible.

The Big crunch:

In this model, it is believed that by something magic the expansion of universe will stop. What a relief! But now it will begin to collapse in on itself into a crunch, triggering for next potential bang.

This argument was put forward before we discovered that expansion of universe was accelerating. A Big Crunch now seems very unlikely, because you’d need dark energy – i.e., whatever is causing the acceleration – to turn off and then something other to cause collapse. I don’t know if gravity will be able to do that on its own.

The Big Slurp:

Okay, this is crazy! It could happen as you are reading this or it could happen in billions of years. Unlike the other scenarios, this does not require much time to bring an end to the universe. The theory behind it is meta stability in vacuum because of the number 126-ish eV that we got for the mass of higgs boson. I don’t know about any update made on this.

The Big Freeze:

It is the most plausible scenario. If the expansion of the universe continues. Every galaxy move away from one another. They will be so far that no light can travel from one galaxy to another. Eventually, the fuel of stars will run out. There will be no usable energy left. This is how it says the universe will end.


The fact is that the universe won’t last there forever. Fortunately the galactic finale is billions of years away. In the mean time- Keep lookin’ up!

Brian Wells

Whether it collapses or not, the universe probably doesn’t have an edge any more than the 2D surface of a ball has an edge.

EDIT: Binrah Mahayishi properly pointed out that my answer falls short. So here’s more:

For the sake of being able to see the universe from the outside, let’s make it a 2D universe instead of a 3D universe. So a piece of paper, for example, could be a universe. It has edges and a center. If it were to contract to a point, the edges would retract and collapse onto the center as posed in the question detail.

Now stretch the piece of paper, joining the corners and edges so it forms a sphere. This 2D universe now has no edge and no center, just as the surface of a ball has no center or edge. It can expand and contract like a balloon without its edges advancing and receding, and if it contracts to nothing, every point on the surface of a contracting ball’s surface reaches the singularity at the same time. So every point on the 2D surface of a sphere is essentially the center point.

Just as this 2D universe is the surface of a 3D sphere, so too might our 3D universe be the surface of a 4D sphere (to take one of many possibilities). Like the sphere-surface 2D universe, it is not infinite even though it has no bounds or edges. And every point in our universe is essentially the center.

Todd Gardiner

The universe itself? No.

But the contents of the universe are likely to come to an end. If the expansion of the universe is so great that matter cannot exist, that would certainly count as and end in my book.

More about the possible ends here: Ultimate fate of the universe on Wikipedia.

Hmm… It’s not just a lack of knowledge in physics that you’re experiencing. It’s a lack of knowledge of mathematics. The universe is a Manifold… Well, kinda sorta. But for intuition, that notion should suffice.

Dirag Biswas

Our universe is destined to end it’s current session. I know not which session this is, but that it’ll revive again into another universe just like ours if the quantum fluctuations that ever occurred are the same as last time.
The group o’ multiverses we live in, well..our instantaneous version of our universe – that exists –  is also destined to die and revive again, but that’s just a theory. What do I know of grander things?..:)
Worry about your life, and death, mortal. You’re a human being and humans are extremely short lived. Worry about your legacy, your civilization. Live and act as much as you can to push the Human Race forward so that, if lucky you’ll be alive again to do the same things in the Universe’s next session.

George Gonzalez

Good question.   Some experiments have been done and it looks like the proton has a very, very long lifetime, like more than 10^33 years.  That is longer than the class periods in high school seemed.

Electrons can’t decay according to the basic laws, there would have to be a lighter particle with charge that it could decay to, and there doesnt seem to be one.

So ptotons and electrons are probably going to stick around.    Now whether they will all get sucked into a black hole is another question.

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[1] One Million Stars


I would like to disseminate the religious explanation with some scientific evidence. (I know, this answer is an open call for downvotes and extremely obnoxious comments, I welcome it unbiased, everyone has freedom to reject and accept).

I agree with Dan Holliday that nobody knows when the universe will end, but it’s given clearly in Religious books that how it will end and there will be signs that will warn mankind about the coming hour. As much as, it is mentioned about the beginning of Universe.

“Do not the Unbelievers see That the heavens and the earth
Were joined together (as one Unit of Creation), before We clove them
asunder?” (Quran 21:30) this verse clearly indicates that the heaven and Earth (thus the universe) where once joined together, and then split apart.

Similarly, Big bang theory states that all the matter in the universe came into existence from one single extremely hot and dense point; that exploded and brought about the beginning of the universe.

Thus is mentioned about the expansion of universe:

“And it is We who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it.”(Quran, 51:47)

Read More:
Quran on the Expansion of the Universe
Astronomers have discovered that the universe is in continuous motion, and that it is expanding. This was discovered by studying the galaxies and distant celestial bodies. The American astronomer Vesto M. Slipher, who studied the spectra of galaxies, noticed that the spectral lines of a few nearby systems were shifted toward longer wavelengths. This shift in wave-length showed that most galaxies were receding from the Milky Way at several hundred kilometers per second! 15

This picture shows that the distances between galaxies or clusters of galaxies are continuously increasing and that therefore the universe is expanding
The American astronomer Edwin Hubble confirmed that the universe was expanding and that the more remote the galaxy the higher was its recession velocity; and that its recession velocity was proportional to its distance.16 With this we see that scholars in astronomy have affirmed that the universe is ever expanding. This expansion will continue until gravity loses its pull and the planets will spread out in the universe, which will result in the end of the world.

This expansion will come to cease
The End of the two worlds

“The day that we roll up
The heavens like scroll
Rolled up for books (completed)”(Quran 21:104)

The end according to this verse is that the universe will come back together again as it was in the beginning. In this verse god is giving an example of how the universe will end and it is clear that this verse indicates that the universe will look like a sheet of paper

“Recent measurements (c. 2001) by a number of ground-based and balloon-based experiments, including MAT/TOCO, Boomerang, Maxima, and DASI, have shown that the brightest spots are about 1 degree across. Thus the universe was known to be flat to within about 15% accuracy prior to the WMAP results. WMAP has confirmed this result with very high accuracy and precision. We now know that the universe is flat with only a 2% margin of error.”
WMAP- Shape of the Universe

Quran, Chapter 81: The folding up, provides insight into the end of the worlds.

“When the sun with its spacious light
is folded up,

When the star fall losing their lustre;

When the mountain vanish like a mirage;

When the she camel,
Ten months with young,
are left unattended,

When the wild beast are herded together
In human habitations

When the oceans boil over with a swell;

When the souls are sorted out, (being joined like with like);
When the female (infant),
Buried alive, is questioned-
For what crime she was killed;

When the scroll are led open,
When the sky is unveiled;

When the blazing fire is kindled to fierce heat;
and when the garden is brought near;
Then shall each soul know
What it has put forward.”

Quran: Chapter no. 82; The cleaving asunder; verse 1,2 and 3

“When the sky is cleft asunder
When the stars are scattered
When the oceans are suffered to burst forth”

Surely, It will end!


In the creation of heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding.”
[Aale Imran 3:190].

Alec Cawley

Current belief is the universe is going to expand forever, into a void with so little matter it can be regarded as empty.

Carlos Julian Lacayo Munoz

Only thing scientist knows for sure is that the universe is expanding and causing our solar system and others to move away from each other at a relatively fast pace (astronomically speaking – kind of like the Niagara falls is being eroded at 1 cm a year roughly). In turn, we may or may not crash with another solar system (our solar system was created by the crashing of two molecular nebulas). Expansion can happen indefinitely some scientists say, and as we expand, anti-matter may or may not make up more of the universe than today, which may have some unknown effect on stars, galaxies, planetary systems, black holes etc.   Some scientist believe that anti-matter is what is pushing expansion (ie. by pushing matter away from each other). This may take 100 trillion trillion years. There is a lot of questions and our understanding of our universe is no where near enough to provide a concrete answer.

The one thing we know for sure, is the life span of our solar system – the death of our star, ie our sun, which is said to already be 1/3 into its life span. So we need not worry about the end of the universe, and only hope, humans (if there still are by then) have already colonized not only other planets by other younger solar systems.

Page on Wikimedia

Bob van Boekel

A theory that I support, based on own opinions and thoughts is: how did the universe start? assuming that no universe is no particles or anything. What was the trigger of something to appear. from total nothing, on a certain moment (god knows what triggered that certain moment and why on that certain time). Therefore we can assume this is impossible, and therefore I think the universe lasts infinitely. As it’s very hard as shown above to prescribe a start to universe, an ending is also excluded, as every end has a start, right? But of course we have found several evidence about a big bang so doesn’t that conclude the universe once started? Well, I think that the universe actually pulses. Big bang, big shrink, big bang, big shrink ∞. Of course it sounds very strange and counter-intuitive but taking into account that time is a dimension and therefore is much more dynamic and flexible as we think it appears the theory might actually make sense.

Interesting thought:

  • If this infinite pulse is actually the case, this conversation would have already taken place, infinitely much. As no external influence could make this big bang any different from a previous or future big bang.

Scientists have come up with a theory on how the Universe might end called ‘The Big Crunch’.The theory goes like this –
The universe is constantly expanding at an immensely huge speed, as we all know, but soon it would gradually start losing the momentum it gained from the moment the Big Bang happened. In that case, it would slow down over a long, long period of time, come to a stop, and instead of pushing backwards would begin to get pulled back together. Ultimately, the Universe would end up in a singularity once more.
Of course, this is only theory. Another one is that the Universe may never lose its momentum, and that it will continue to expand forever. Scientists believe that the latter is more likely. In which case, we can only guess what fate awaits our Universe.

Michael Pollock

The universe, as least what we can see, will experience entropy and will adhere to the second law of thermodynamics by having all of the plasma and fusion burn out. All objects, big or small, will be lifeless rocks aimlessly flying throughout the universe because the object that used to be holding them in orbit loses its heat and therefore, gravity. This scenario would have the black holes burning out last because they are the biggest initial masses. The black holes will also be in much danger since many objects will be flying aimlessly in space.

Gerwin Dox

A few remaks on your question:
1. Current theories state that it will expand into infinity;
2. The universe has no center (Einstein proved this), and no edges.

Nobody knows.

Current models suggest the Universe will keep expanding forever. So it never ends … though there is a state of maximum entropy in the model called “heat death”.

Note: if time ends, then assigning a “when” to that end could be problematic.

Nobody knows how the universe will end as per the existing physics. There are three possibilities:

(i). Universe will expand forever.

(ii).Universe will stop to expand at some point of time in future.

(iii) . Universe will not only stop but begin to contract.

Note: Then there are theoretical possibilities of parallel universes and the universe going through cycles of birth (Big Bang) and death (Super Crunch) again and again. But these are only theoretical guesses.

Alper Tuna Alkan

To most of scientist it will end up by shrinking till there is nothing to shrink so its like reverse big bang and it will probably end when the universe is bigger than ever so big that the distance between matters are colossal that every single matter is alone so the universe will be extremely cold even it can be 0 kelvin. Because of that the universe will shrink.

James Pinkerton

For those who fear suffering through the process of dying … being terrified, enduring agonizing pain, depression, hopelessness, feeling useless, making those around you suffer, etc. I offer you this scenario to ease your fears, and free you to focus all your attention on enjoying all that life has to offer …

Only three restrictions:

  1. To the best of your ability, do nothing to harm others. They are no different than you. Their ‘right’ to enjoy to the fullest all that life has to offer is identical to yours. There will be times when you do cause others to suffer. It is part of the human condition. Ending a relationship, for example, when the other person does not want it to end. Some pain is unavoidable.
  2. Killing is acceptable only when no other alternative is possible in defense of yourself or in defense of others. Killing out of fear, in the belief that it is possible your life, or the lives of others could be in danger is not acceptable.
  3. As it is impossible to know when the end will come, do nothing that will deprive future generations. Do nothing that will diminish the beauty of this planet, for it may be the only habitat humans will ever occupy.

It is possible earth will cease to exist instantaneously.

At this very moment, a black hole could be heading toward us.

We don’t know if a black hole is subject to the normal laws of space.

We don’t know if they are limited in linear velocity.

In other words, black holes could move through space at speeds well beyond light speed.

If a black hole of quadrillions or quintillions of solar masses was approaching earth at 1,000 times the speed of light, we would never see it coming.

No telescopes would detect it in the past, because the evidence of the destruction it caused would not have reached us.

If this black hole swept through our solar system at such a velocity, everything would be ‘normal’ … then in 1/1,000 of a second every atom in the solar system … including the atoms of our bodies … would become part of the central mass of the black hole.

We would have no warning. No awareness of the transition. No pain. No fear. No suffering of any kind.

Our entire solar system (and every living being) would simply vanish.


I can’t think of a better way to die.

Selvendran K

Some scientists say that the universe will expand continuously . Some scientists say that one day the universe stop expanding and matters collide each other known as the “big crunch” and universe will die

Shubham Mishra

                                                                                                                                                            BIG RIP YES…                                           with this tremendous expansion of universe  due to dark energy ..at some moment dark energy will be able to tear apart each and every thing in this universe and thats will be the ultimate fate of our universe


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