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Surprising Science

The End of Star Gazing

When future astronomers look to the sky, they will no longer witness the past. Observations will reveal nothing but an endless stretch of inky black stillness.

If the dark energy doesn’t degrade over time, then the accelerated expansion of space will continue unabated, dragging away distant galaxies ever farther and ever faster. A hundred billion years from now, any galaxy that’s not resident in our neighborhood will have been swept away by swelling space for so long that it will be racing from us at faster than the speed of light. (Although nothing can move through space faster than the speed of light, there’s no limit on how fast space itself can expand.) Light emitted by such galaxies will therefore fight a losing battle to traverse the rapidly widening gulf that separates us.


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