No pursuit has ever been more significant to science than understanding how the universe arrived,how it works and how it will will end. We find it hard enough to plan ahead to the weekend, but some scientists have mapped out what will happen to the Earth and the universe’s major events all the way to a Googol years from now.
The distant future will bring plenty of good news and catastrophies but It’s all worth considering, if it can remind us to appreciate what we have now and to work harder at sustaining it. On that note, here’s an Earth-centric peek into the faraway distant future.
• 100 years: A sweaty century Earth continues to heat up, possibly by 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit from today’s average temperature. This could lead to twice as many “very intense” Atlantic hurricanes, a 15 percent drop in Northern Hemisphere snow cover and a 2-foot rise in global sea levels. The Arctic Ocean is ice-free in summer, amplifying climate change even further.
• 200 years: Live long and prosper? Human life expectancy is now 87 to 106 years, and while population growth has slowed, there are still nearly 10 billion of us. Climate change has killed many people and driven key wildlife species to extinction, collapsing many ecosystems — and CO2 emissions are still in the atmosphere. But technology has also offset some climate-related problems, improving crop yields, health care and energy efficiency.
• 300 years: Humanity makes the big leagues Created by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev, the Kardashev scale ranks advanced civilizations based on their energy sources. Type I uses all available resources on its home planet; Type II taps the full energy of a star; Type III harnesses galactic power. U.S. physicist Michio Kaku has predicted humanity will be a Type I civilization by the 2300s. 400 years:Superhuman powers are available to common citizenry The nanotechnology of recent decades has conferred powers to citizens that would be considered superhuman by 21st century standards.
These upgraded “transhumans” could perform feats regarded as Godlike to denizens of earlier times.In many ways, they would resemble a comic book superhero or video game character. 500 years: Mars has been terraformed By the middle of this millenium, the Red Planet has been turned from a cold, dead world into a lush, Eden-like paradise. This monumental achievement was the result of human collaboration on a planet-wide scale. It created whole new industries and undreamed of technologies. 600 years: Plastics and other waste products are disappearing from Earth’s biosphere Most of the plastics, tin cans and other waste products from the 20th-21st centuries have decomposed by now. They caused significant harm to the environment during their time on Earth – injuring millions of birds, fish and other animals.
• 700 years: Venus has been terraformed By now, Venus has been transformed into a habitable, Earthlike world. The planet’s entire orbit was shifted, bringing it closer to the “Goldilocks Zone”, while its day-night cycle was accelerated from 117 days to 24 hours. • 864 years: Duck! The asteroid 1950 DA will pass scarily close to Earth on March 16, 2880. Although a collision is possible, NASA predicts it will narrowly miss, providing an important reminder of what’s to come — and another reason to celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day.
• 1,000 years: Duck even more! Thanks to ongoing human evolution, people of the year 3000 may be 7-foot giants who can live for 120 years. Sexual selection has likely also made them more attractive.
• 2,000 years: Pole position The planet’s north and south magnetic poles periodically reverse, with the last switch occurring in the Stone Age. It may already be under way in 21st century, but since it’s a slow process, the North Pole probably won’t be in Antarctica for a few millennia.
• 8,000 years: Dancing with the stars As if pole reversal wasn’t confusing enough, gradual changes in Earth’s rotation have now dethroned Polaris as the North Star, replacing it with Deneb. But Deneb will later be usurped by Vega, which will give way to Thuban, eventually setting the stage for Polaris to regain the role in 26,000 years. Navigation hasn’t been this hard since Apple Maps. 10000:the hypernova of eta carinae is affecting our region of the galaxy Eta Carinae is among the largest, most volatile stars in our galaxy. Its temperature is so high that it is unable to hold onto its own gas, with constant streams being ejected from the surface. For a brief period, this colossal explosion outshines the entire galaxy. It is bright enough to be visible during daytime on Earth, while at night, it is similar to the full moon. 22000:the chernobyl disaster site has become completely safe The Chernobyl explosion, which occurred in 1986, was the worst nuclear accident in history – affecting tens of thousands of square kilometres of land. Radiation at the centre of the former disaster zone has decayed to negligible levels by now.
• 35000: ross 248 becomes the closest star to our sun Alpha Centauri was previously the closest star. Ross 248 is a red dwarf, with approximately 12% of the Sun’s mass and 16% of the Sun’s radius, but only 0.2% of its luminosity. In 2010, Ross 248 was 10.3 light years from Earth, with a radial velocity of 81 km/s. By 35,000 AD, it is closer than Alpha Centauri.
• 40000: voyager 1 is passing near the red dwarf star gliese 445 Launched by NASA in 1977, the Voyager I space probe continues to drift through interstellar space. It is now passing near Gliese 445, an M-type main sequence star in the constellation of Camelopardalis, close to Polaris.
• 50,000 years: Cooling-off period Unless excess greenhouse gases are still scrambling Earth’s climate, the current interglacial period finally ends, triggering a new glacial period of the ongoing ice age.
• 100,000 years: Canis Majoris goes wild The largest known star in the Milky Way has finally exploded, producing one of the most spectacular supernovas in galactic history. It’s visible from Earth in daylight.
• 200,000 years: The night sky reinvents itself Due to “proper motion,” or the long-term movement of celestial bodies through space, familiar star constellations like the Big Dipper, Orion and Perseus no longer exist.
• 250,000 years: Hawaii has a baby Loihi, a young submarine volcano in the Hawaiian chain, rises above the Pacific Ocean’s surface and becomes a new island.
• 298,000:voyager 2 is approaching sirius Voyager 2 was an unmanned space probe launched in 1977 to investigate the outer planets of the solar system.The probe survives for thousands of years in the emptiness of interstellar space. It eventually passes by Sirius, having covered a distance of over 25 trillion miles
• 1 million years: betalgeuse has become a supernova Arguably the most famous of the red supergiants, Betelgeuse forms the top left part of the Orion constellation, 640 light years from Earth.
By 1 million AD, it has erupted into a type II supernova, bright enough to be seen during daylight hours on Earth.
• 1.4 million years: Constant comet Orange dwarf star Gliese 710 passes within 1.1 light-years of our sun, causing a gravitational disruption in the Oort Cloud. This dislodges objects from the solar system’s icy halo, possibly sending a barrage of comets toward the sun — and the Earth.
• 2 million: pioneer 10 is approachin the aldebaran system. Pioneer 10 was the first space probe to travel through the asteroid belt and to directly observe Jupiter, which it passed by in 1973. After completing its mission, it began heading in the direction of Aldebaran – a red giant star located 65 light years away in the constellation Taurus.Attached to the probe is a pictorial message, in case of interception by extraterrestrial life.
This plaque shows the nude figures of a human male and female, along with symbols that are designed to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft.
• 6.8 million years dna from 21st century is completely decayed Even if preserved under ideal storage conditions of −5°C, every molecular bond in a strand of DNA will decay after 6.8 million years. Any remaining biological samples from the 21st century which have not been recovered or digitised are now completely destroyed.
• 7.2 million: mount rushmore has eroded away. Absent human intervention, the famous faces of Presidents carved in the side of this rock formation have disappeared by now. Granite has an erosion rate of approximately one inch per 10,000 years.
• 7.6 million:phobos is ripped apart be mars gravity Phobos is the largest and closest of the two moons of Mars. Because its orbital period is shorter than a Martian day, tidal deceleration has been decreasing its orbital radius at the rate of about 20 metres (66 ft) per century.By this date, it has passed the Roche limit. Phobos begins to break apart. It gradually becomes a ring system over the following 3 million years.
• 8,400,000 AD LAGEOS-1 returns to Earth LAGEOS-1 was predicted to re-enter the atmosphere in 8,400,000 AD. It contained a plaque, designed to allow future descendants of humans to view the arrangement of Earth’s continents in the past, present and future.
• 30 million years: Where’s Bruce Willis? An asteroid 6 to 12 miles wide typically hits Earth every 100 million years, and the last one hit 65 million years ago, killing off the dinosaurs. Another is thus expected in the next 30 million years, releasing as much energy as 100 million megatons of TNT. It would blanket the planet in debris, spark widespread wildfires and trigger a severe greenhouse effect. Dust in the sky would also block out the sun for years, hindering plant growth.
• 50 million years: Sea minus Africa collides with Eurasia, closing up the Mediterranean Sea and replacing it with a Himalayan-scale mountain range. At the same time, Australia is migrating north and the Atlantic Ocean continues to widen. 80 million,saturns rings fallen apart by now Over time, they were slowly being bombarded by micrometeoroids – trillions of tiny collisions eroding their structure and darkening their appearance. Material was also being liberated by charged particles emanating from the magnetosphere, combined with gravitational influence of the moons.
• By 100 million AD, Saturn’s rings have largely disappeared.
• 225 million:the sun completed one galactic year By now, our Sun has completed another clockwise revolution around the galaxy – the 21st in its lifetime so far.
• 250 million years: Continents, unite! Continental drift once again smashes Earth’s dry land into a supercontinent, which resembles the ancient Pangea.
Scientists have already named it “Pangea Ultima.”
• 600 million years: Earth needs some shade The sun’s growing luminosity increases the weathering of surface rocks, trapping carbon dioxide in the ground. Rocks dry up and harden due to faster evaporation of water. Plate tectonics slow down, volcanoes stop recycling carbon into the air and CO2 levels begin to fall. This eventually impedes C3 photosynthesis, likely killing off most plant life.
• 720 million:the sagittarius dwarf galaxy has been absorbed into milky way. The Sagittarius dwarf elliptical galaxy (Sag DEG) is a tiny satellite galaxy orbiting the Milky Way. For aeons, it has been stretched and torn apart by the immense tidal forces of its neighbour. By now, it has been completely absorbed into the Milky Way
• 800 million years: Multicellular life dies out The ongoing decline of carbon dioxide levels makes C4 photosynthesis impossible. Unless humans have devised some kind of geoengineering scheme to preserve the food web, Earth’s biosphere is reduced to single-celled organisms.
• 1 billion years: Earth can’t hold water The sun is now 10 percent more luminous, heating up Earth’s surface temperatures to an average of 116 degrees Fahrenheit.
The oceans begin to evaporate, flooding the atmosphere with water vapor and spurring an extreme greenhouse effect.
• 2.8 billion years: Earth is dead Earth’s average surface temperature rises to nearly 300 degrees Fahrenheit, even at the poles. The scattered remains of single-celled life will likely die out, leaving Earth lifeless for the first time in billions of years. If humans still exist, we’d better be somewhere else.
• 4 billion years: Welcome to ‘Milkomeda’ There’s a good chance the Andromeda galaxy has collided with the Milky Way by now, starting a merger that will produce a new galaxy called “Milkomeda.”
• 5 billion years: The sun is a red giant Having used up its hydrogen supply, the sun grows into a red giant with a radius 200 times larger than today. The solar system’s innermost planets are destroyed.and earth is suffering under the xtreme temperatures of it’s red giant sun.
• 8 billion years: Titan seems nice The sun has completed its red giant stage and may have destroyed the Earth. It’s a white dwarf now, shrinking to nearly half its current mass. Meanwhile, rising surface temperatures on Saturn’s moon Titan might be able to support life.
• 12 billion years: The sun is a black dwarf With its main-sequence life at an end, the sun cools and dims into a black dwarf. 100 billion years:The Virgo Supercluster is converging into a single galaxy The Virgo Supercluster – containing hundreds of smaller clusters including our own – is now so ancient that it has begun to stabilise and converge into a single huge galaxy, many millions of light years across.
• 1 trillion years: Peak stardust As supplies of star-producing gas clouds run low, many galaxies begin to burn out. 2 trillion years. galaxies beyond the local superclusters are no longer visible. Dark energy has continued to drive the expansion of the universe at an ever-accelerating rate. By now, the volume of the universe is so great – and the speed of acceleration so high – that everything beyond the Local Supercluster is no longer visible. 20 trillion years; red dwarf stars are dying.
By now, even some of the longest-lived stars in our galaxy – such as red dwarfs – have begun to fade away, leaving behind only cold “black dwarfs” emitting trace amounts of radiation.
• 100 trillion years: The end of a ‘stellar era’ Star formation has ended and the last main-sequence stars are dying, leaving only dwarf stars, neutron stars and black holes. The black holes gradually eat any remaining rogue planets.
• 10 undecillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000 AD) years: A bunch of degenerates The “stellar era” yields to the “degenerate era,” as the only energy sources are proton decay and particle annihilation. If humans still exist, hopefully we have good flashlights.
• 10 tredecillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000, 000, 000,000,000,000,000, 000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000 AD) years: Back in black The “black hole era” begins, populated by little more than black holes and subatomic particles. Due to the universe’s ongoing expansion, even those are hard to find.
• Googol (10^100) years: A shot in the dark After many eons of black hole evaporation, the universe is a sparse junkyard of photons, neutrinos, electrons and positrons, separated by inconceivably long distances.An array of theories speculate what happens next, including the Big Freeze, the Big Rip, the Big Crunch and the Big Bounce — not to mention the idea of a multiverse — but it’s widely believed our universe will expand forever.