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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Universe in 101 words: What's the Big Rip?

Above: A map of the web of galaxies and galaxy clusters that make our local universe.

It sounds like a fart joke. 

But this fart could end the Universe:

The expansion of the Universe is accelerating, powered by ‘dark energy’. If dark energy stays constant it will eventually pull the galaxy clusters apart – but the gravity holding the galaxies themselves together wont be overwhelmed. 

There's another scenario however, if dark energy grows with time...

The expansion of space will accelerate, until gravity can't hold the Milky Way together.

Then the Solar System will fly apart, leaving Earth alone in the darkness. 

Finally, Earth would disintegrate - down to its atoms.

That's the Big Rip.

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