Thoughts & Insights

Time-Traveling in the Universe – Science Without Fiction

Several days ago, on 6 August, the German-French television program ARTE devoted an entire thematic day to the exploration of space. It was a huge amount of first-hand information on this topic, for more than eight hours, such as one rarely receives delivered like this.

The interviewed space explorers, astronomers astrophysicists, astrochemicists and astrobiologists from all over the world, all referred to themselves repeatedly, independently from one another, as archaeologists of space, who are able to take cosmic time-travels, thanks to the technology available today, to the origins of the universe.

Looking through gigantic space telescopes can meanwhile send us back, with an incredible data precision, roughly eleven billion years into the past, in other words very close to the origins of our universe. Recently, for instance, the light of a supernova was captured, which occurred about six hundred million years after the “Big Bang”. Based on the analysis of the information content of this light, its “history” can now be reconstructed. For example, it is possible to determine whether this light may have been curved by an interstellar cloud and much more of this nature. This is not a fiction, but rather pure science and seems all the more fantastic to us for precisely that reason.

Based on insights into the past of the universe attained in this way, events can in turn be pre-calculated, which are situated in an unimaginably remote future. For example: the death of a star in five billion years, around which our earth orbits and which we call the sun, or the collision roughly two billion years before that of our Milky Way with the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy, when the two will unite in a fantastic cosmic dance into a single galaxy, which will then presumably not be a spiral galaxy, but rather an elliptic galaxy.

This arch between the insights into the time of the beginning of our universe and the preview of its far remote future suggests to me an association with the archaeological excavations in the future, which were the subject of my last blog entry.

You may also want to watch the impressive computer simulation “A Look at the Milky Way’s Future”, which describes the collision between the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy here.