What is the Big Rip? (with photos)

The “big rip” theory suggests that rapid expansion can cause the universe to fall apart.

The “big rip” is a theoretical way in which the universe could come to an end depending on its total density, which is difficult to determine. Observations by astronomers and physicists show that the universe as a whole continues to expand and that objects within it, such as galaxies, are moving away from each other at an increasing rate. If this expansion and increased acceleration continues indefinitely due to insufficient density in the universe, all objects will eventually begin to fall apart. In the big rip, initially galaxies would be torn apart, followed by stars and planets, and finally atoms and other particles would be separated at the end of the universe.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is believed to have up to 400 billion stars.

There is much that remains unknown about the universe, but certain theories can be constructed. Observations show that it is expanding, that bodies within it, like galaxies, are moving away from each other. The rate of this expansion appears to be either increasing or accelerating, which means that something other than the initial force of the Big Bang must be causing them to accelerate. This force is often called “dark energy” or “repulsive gravity”.

Once the idea of ​​dark energy was established, a question was raised about how the universe’s acceleration would unfold over time. The answer to this question largely depends on the mass of the universe, as this determines how expansion might change in the future. If this value is high enough, above a value known as the “critical density”, then the universe will eventually collapse in on itself, an event called the “big crunch”.

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On the other hand, if the density of the universe is far below this value, the acceleration will not stop. In fact, it will increase over time, and in about 20 billion years, an event known as the “great rip” could occur. At that point, the acceleration would be so great that objects within the universe would begin to pull apart.

The big rip would start with large objects; galaxies break up and the various star systems within them expand away from the galactic centers. As the acceleration continues, star systems would be torn apart and planets would leave their orbits around the stars to expand into space. At a certain point, stars and planets would no longer be held together and these objects would be separated into particles and atoms. Toward the end of the great rip, the atoms themselves would be separated and disintegrated.

According to recent data, however, this model of the end of the universe is quite unlikely. While the density of the universe does not appear to be sufficient for the big crunch, it is likely too high for the big rip to occur. The most popular theory about the end of the universe is called the “big freeze”. In this model, heat death occurs when the universe becomes so spread out that energy transfer is impossible and simply freezes.

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