Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Universe Is 30 Times More Run Down Than Thought, Astronomers Find

Date:
January 27, 2010
Source:
Australian National University
Summary:
Cars run out of petrol, stars run out of fuel and galaxies collapse into black holes. As they do, the universe and everything in it is gradually running down. But how run down is it? Researchers from Australia have found that the universe is 30 times more run down than previously thought.

Telescope image of the Pleiades star cluster.
Credit: iStockphoto/Paul LeFevre

Cars run out of petrol, stars run out of fuel and galaxies collapse into black holes. As they do, the universe and everything in it is gradually running down. But how run down is it? Researchers from The Australian National University have found that the universe is 30 times more run down than previously thought.

PhD student Chas Egan and Dr Charley Lineweaver from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics have computed the entropy of the universe. Scientists compute entropy to find out how efficient an engine is or how much work can be extracted from a fuel or how run down and disordered a system is. Using new data on the number and size of black holes they found that the universe contains 30 times more entropy than earlier estimates.

"We considered all contributions to the entropy of the observable universe: stars, star light, the cosmic microwave background. We even made an estimate of the entropy of dark matter. But it's the entropy of super-massive black holes that dominates the entropy of the universe. When we used the new data on the number and size of super-massive black holes, we found that the entropy of the observable universe is about 30 times larger than previous calculations," said Mr Egan.

"Contrary to common opinion, the maintenance of all the complicated structures we see around us -- galaxies, stars, hurricanes and kangaroos -- have the net effect of increasing the disorder and entropy of the universe. But to be fair, their contributions are negligible compared to the entropy of super-massive black holes," added Dr Lineweaver.

The researchers' results have important implications for terrestrial and extraterrestrial life. "The universe started out in a low entropy state and, in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics, the entropy has been increasing ever since," Mr Egan said. "This is important because the amount of energy available to life in the universe, including terrestrial life, depends on the entropy of the universe. We'd like to know how much energy will be available to life forms anywhere in the universe, and where this energy is. The first step in this procedure is to determine the entropy of the universe. That is what we did."

Dr Lineweaver said that the next step in the research is to out how close we are to maximum entropy, how much entropy is being produced and how much time we have left before the universe and all life in it dies in the inevitable heat death.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Australian National University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chas A. Egan, Charles H. Lineweaver. A Larger Estimate of the Entropy of the Universe. Astrophysical Journal, 2010; (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

Australian National University. "Universe Is 30 Times More Run Down Than Thought, Astronomers Find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126104844.htm>.
Australian National University. (2010, January 27). Universe Is 30 Times More Run Down Than Thought, Astronomers Find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126104844.htm
Australian National University. "Universe Is 30 Times More Run Down Than Thought, Astronomers Find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126104844.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA (July 25, 2014) NASA EDGE webcasts live from Vandenberg AFB for the launch of the Oribiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO) launch. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins