hypernova of Eta Carinae is affecting our region of the galaxy
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. It first came to attention
in 1843 when it flared to magnitude -0.8, becoming the second brightest
star in the night sky.
died down, before brightening again in the late 1990s. This fluctuation
continues - with periodic flaring and dimming - until one day the inevitable
happens. Unable to maintain its cohesion, Eta Carinae erupts into one
of the deadliest known forces in nature: a hypernova.
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.*
greater concern, however, are the lethal jets of gamma radiation released
by the dying star. These begin to shoot outward, at such high energies
that even systems thousands of light years away are affected. As a result,
numerous planets in our region of the galaxy undergo mass extinctions
during this time.*
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Dana Berry
Betelgeuse is colliding with a dusty wall
Betelgeuse is the nearest red supergiant star to Earth. It can be seen with the naked eye in the northern hemisphere winter night sky as the orange-red star above and to the left of Orion's famous three-star belt. Roughly 1,000 times the diameter and 100,000 times the brightness of the Sun, Betelgeuse is on its way to becoming a supernova, having already swelled in size and shed a significant fraction of its outer layers.
The star's winds are crashing against the surrounding interstellar medium, producing a curved "bow shock" as the star moves through space at 30 km/s. A series of broken, dusty arcs ahead of the star's direction of motion testify to a turbulent history of mass loss.
In the early 21st century, the Herschel Space Observatory found a mysterious wall-like structure in far-infrared. It was seen further away from the star, beyond the dusty arcs, its linear shape indicating that it was completely separate from and unrelated to Betelgeuse. It was, however, being illuminated by the supergiant. Astronomers of the time believed it was either a linear filament linked to the Galaxy's magnetic field, or the edge of a nearby interstellar cloud.
In 7000 AD, a collision occurs between the wall and the bow shock zone. This is followed by a collision between the wall and Betelgeuse itself, some 12,500 years later.*
Credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS/L. Decin et al
Chernobyl disaster site becomes fully safe
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.*
case, the original buildings on site have long since disappeared and
indeed, Earth itself would be unrecognisable today.
first wave of sub-light vessels has reached the galactic core
core region is located 27-28,000 light years from Earth. At its centre
lies the largest black hole in the galaxy - a supermassive black hole.* Having travelled for many millennia, the first wave of sub-light spacecraft
has now arrived in its vicinity.
contain no physical human crew, being entirely computerised and automated.
Numbering in the trillions, they have self-replicated along the way,
using local stellar and planetary material gathered en route.* Systems encountered during this epic voyage have become seeded with
computational substrates and saturated with artificial intelligence
- individual planets and moons becoming like brain cells in a gigantic,
artificial organism. It is almost as though the galaxy itself is waking
up and achieving self-awareness.*
no competition or battle to claim ownership of the core. Wars, greed
and archaic concepts of nationality have long since disappeared, with
sentient beings now united under a common heritage.
to the black hole, there are dense concentrations of ancient, metal-rich
stars; in places separated by only a few light weeks or light days.
These provide an enormous pool of resources for the approaching fleets.
is so high in this region that almost nothing biological can survive,
except for the hardiest of extremophile bacteria. Were an observer able
to stand on a planet near the core, the sky above them would appear
as a dazzling display of light and colour.
reached the galactic centre, efforts are now underway to explore the
far side of the galaxy and the mysteries that lie beyond. Dozens of
globular clusters have also been reached by now.*
Credit: NASA, ESA and A. Schaller (for STScI)
248 becomes the closest star to our Sun
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. However - it is also a "flare star",
that periodically undergoes sudden, dramatic increases in brightness
for a few minutes.
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. It reaches
its closest point in 38,000 AD - moving to within 3.1 light years -
before receding again, becoming further from the Sun than Alpha Centauri
in 44,000 AD.
1 is passing near the red dwarf star, AC+79 3888
by NASA in 1977, the Voyager I space probe continues to drift through
interstellar space. It is now passing near AC+79
3888, an M-type main sequence star in the constellation of Camelopardalis,
close to Polaris.* Its sister probe, Voyager
2, will reach Sirius in approximately 298,000
KEO time capsule re-enters the Earth's atmosphere*
was a time capsule launched in 2012 and intended to orbit Earth for
50,000 years – the same length of time that had elapsed since
early humans began drawing in cave walls.
was supported by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), as well as the European Space Agency (ESA) and other institutions.
were invited to contribute messages.* These
were encoded in glass-made, radiation-resistant DVDs, along with instructions
to future generations on how to build a DVD reader. Samples of human
blood, earth, air and seawater were also placed on board.
itself is a hollow sphere, 80cm in diameter. The sphere is engraved
with a map of Earth and surrounded by an aluminium layer, a thermal
layer and several layers of titanium, intertwined with vacuum. The sphere
is resistant to cosmic radiation, atmospheric re-entry and space junk
into orbit 1,800 km high, the satellite's altitude has slowly degraded
by a few dozen metres each year. As it finally re-enters the atmosphere,
its thermal layer produces a bright, artificial aurora to signal its
red hypergiant star, VY Canis Majoris, has exploded by now, producing
one of the largest supernovas the galaxy has ever seen*
Canis Majoris, at between 1800 and 2100 times bigger than our Sun (8.4–9.8
au, 2.7 billion km or 1.7 billion miles in radius), is the largest known
star in the Milky Way, and also one of the brightest known. It is located
around 4,900 light years from Earth, in the constellation Canis Major. It
was discovered to be very unstable, throwing off much of its mass into
the surrounding nebula. By 100,000 it has finally exploded, creating
a supernova bright enough to be seen during daylight hours on Earth.
Constellations visible from Earth have been rendered unrecognisable
Proper motion - the continuous movement of celestial bodies due to changing orbits or the remaining effects of the Big Bang - has radically changed the view of the night sky from Earth. Stars naturally move at different velocities, depending on the manner in which a star formed from its original dust cloud. By 50,000 AD, constellations were beginning to be twisted and bent into new shapes* and by 200,000 AD have become completely unrecognisable.* This includes once famous groups of stars like the Big Dipper, Orion, Ursa Major, Perseus and Gemini. As a result of changes in Earth's axial orientation, Gamma Cephei, Iota Cephei and Vega have taken the position of the North Star.
2 is approaching Sirius
2 was an unmanned space probe launched in 1977 to investigate the outer
planets of the solar system. Identical in form and function with its
sister craft, Voyager 1, it was launched on
a slower, more curved trajectory that allowed it to be kept in the plane
of the Ecliptic. This enabled it to be sent on to Uranus and Neptune
by means of utilising gravity assists during its fly-by of Saturn in
1981 and of Uranus in 1986.
Voyager 2 was around 92 AU (13.75 billion km, 8.5 billion miles, or
0.001443 ly) from the Sun, deep in the scattered disc, and traveling
outward at roughly 3.26 AU per year.
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.* Sirius is the brightest
star in the sky when viewed from Earth.
computers are dominating the Local Group of galaxies; AI
controls all government and other systems; the descendants of humanity
are a Type 3 civilisation on the Kardashev scale
biological (non-cyborg) humans are exceedingly rare now. The very few
which do remain comprise only a tiny fraction of the total sentient
minds in existence. Though free to come and go as they please, they
have practically zero influence in any governmental systems on Earth
or elsewhere, being regarded as wholly subordinate to the AIs and other
entities. As a species, homo sapiens has continued to evolve
over time. This has led to a further increase in cranial size, a near-total
absence of hair, an elongation of limbs, a more robust and capable immune
system, and a greatly increased lifespan.
majority of humans have long since abandoned these primitive biological
forms, making the transition to machines or other substrates and achieving
practical immortality. The entire Milky Way galaxy has been explored
by these transhumans and their sentient ships.
travel is now possible using Alcubierre drives, which are compact and
miniaturised enough to be found in even personal, single-occupancy vessels.
These use such colossal amounts of power that they cause the fabric
of space ahead of a ship to contract, while the space behind it expands.
This bypasses the laws of relativity, allowing travel to even neighbouring
galaxies such as M31 (Andromeda) and M33 (Triangulum).
computers are being constructed throughout the Local Group of galaxies,
with every available resource going towards their production. All of
the "dead" worlds, comets, moons and asteroids considered
uninhabitable are being converted into these machines, forming a vast
network millions of light years across space. Each computer is capable
of instant communications with any other, regardless of distance.
number of alien intelligences have been contacted by now. In addition,
ancient ruins have been uncovered on many worlds - indicating advanced
civilisations which somehow failed or destroyed themselves in the distant
past. Thousands of other planets have been discovered to have rich ecosystems,
brimming with diverse plant and animal (and other) life. Most of the
fauna being catalogued is small and insect-like, but some is more developed
with intelligence comparable to higher mammals such as dolphins, monkeys
the biological (non-cyborg) humans are avoiding the core regions in
each galaxy, which are filled with extremely high concentrations of
gamma radiation, blackholes and other hazards - dangerous even with
the technologies and protections of today.
Oort cloud is being disrupted by the approach of Gliese 710
dwarf star, Gliese 710, is passing within 1.1 light years (70,000 AU)
of the Sun. This is close enough to disrupt the Oort Cloud surrounding
our solar system. A shower of comets is now heading in-system.
closest approach, Gliese 710 will be a first-magnitude star when viewed
from Earth: one of the brightest in the night sky.
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.
contact with the probe was made in 2003, when a very weak signal was
detected from the craft, 12 billion kilometers (7.5 billion miles) from
Earth. An attempt at contact in 2006 was unsuccessful.
at roughly 2.6 AU per year, Pioneer 10 begins to approach the Aldebaran
system in 2,000,000 AD.*
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.
11 is approaching the Lambda Aquilae system
11 is the sister craft of Pioneer 10. Launched in 1973, it completed
a successful flyby of Saturn in 1979, before heading out to interstellar
space, travelling in the opposite direction of Pioneer 10.
million years, it passes by Lambda Aquilae, a blue-white B-type main
sequence dwarf star, approximately 125 light years from Earth.* Like its sister, Pioneer 11 carries a plaque with a message from humankind.
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.*
is ripped apart by Mars' gravity
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.
date, it has passed the Roche limit - the distance within which a celestial
body, held together only by its own gravity, will disintegrate due to
a second body's tidal forces exceeding the first's gravitational self-attraction.
begins to break apart. It gradually becomes a ring system over the following
3 million years, with many of these fragments impacting upon Mars itself.*
largest moon - Triton - will share a similar
Laser Geodynamics Satellites (LAGEOS) were a pair of scientific research satellites launched in the late 20th century and designed to provide an orbiting laser ranging benchmark for geodynamical studies. Each was a high density passive laser reflector in a very stable medium Earth orbit (MEO), roughly 5,900 kilometres (3,700 mi) in altitude.
These spacecraft were aluminium-covered brass spheres with diameters of 60cm and weighing approximately 400kg, covered with cube-corner retroreflectors, giving them the appearance of giant golf balls. They had no on-board sensors or electronics, and no attitude control. Measurements were made by transmitting pulsed laser beams from ground stations to the satellites. The laser beams returned to Earth after hitting the reflecting surfaces.
Due to the stability of their orbits, the LAGEOS satellites made it possible to determine positions on the Earth with ultra-high accuracy: better than one inch in thousands of miles. At the time, this made them the most precise location references available. As such, they were used for monitoring the movement of the Earth's tectonic plates, gravitational field, the "wobble" in its axis of rotation, and for determining the exact length of an Earth day.
However, these satellites would fall back to Earth eventually. 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.*
Earth is being threatened by lethal levels of gamma radiation
is a binary star system in the constellation Pyxis. It contains a sun-like
star and a white dwarf. Because of the strong gravitational effect of
the white dwarf, it draws matter from the other star which causes periodic
thermonuclear explosions (so-called novae) to occur.
this time, it reaches the so-called Chandrasekhar Limit, causing it
to undergo an instantaneous collapse that completely destroys the star
in a Type 1a supernova. This catastrophic event releases 10 million
times more energy than a typical nova explosion – the equivalent of
20 billion, billion, billion megatons of TNT.*
is only 3,260 light years away, close enough to destroy Earth's ozone layer and cause mass extinctions unless the planet is shielded by advanced technology.
decaying orbit has led to it breaking up around Neptune, forming a new
assuming the moon still exists in a form we would recognise. The descendants
of humanity may have converted its raw mass into artificial structures
by now. Even Neptune itself may no longer exist – the planet’s
hydrogen and helium may have been siphoned off for use in starships
and industrial processes.
some point during this period, an asteroid 10-20 km in size comes on
a direct collision course with Earth
of this size tend to happen every 100 million years or so.* The last such event occurred 65m years ago - resulting in the extinction
of the dinosaurs.
or its descendants are no longer around to protect it, any remaining
life on the planet may be in danger of a similar mass extinction during
of this scale would release around 4×1023 joules of
energy, equivalent to 100 million megatons of TNT. By contrast, the
most powerful man-made explosion in history, the "Tsar Bomba",
had a yield of only 50 megatons.
in the ocean, it would produce megatsunamis reaching thousands of feet
of super-heated dust, ash and steam would spread from the crater, as
the impactor burrowed underground in less than a second. Excavated material
and pieces of the impactor - ejected out of the atmosphere by the blast
- would be heated to incandescence upon re-entry, broiling the Earth's
surface and igniting global wildfires. Meanwhile, colossal shock waves
would spawn global earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The emission
of dust and particles would cover the entire surface of the Earth for
several years, possibly a decade, creating a harsh environment for living
things to survive. The shock production of carbon dioxide caused by
the destruction of carbonate rocks would trigger a sudden greenhouse
longer period of time, sunlight would be blocked from reaching the surface
of the earth by the dust particles in the atmosphere, cooling the surface
dramatically. Photosynthesis by plants would be interrupted, collapsing
the entire food chain.
African continent merges with Europe, forming a new mountain range to
rival the Himalayas
As a result
of this, the Mediterranean no longer exists. The Red Sea, Black Sea
and Caspian Sea have also disappeared. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Ocean
has continued to widen, and southeast Asia is merging with Australia.
The Milky Way galaxy has stabilised from an earlier collision
Our galaxy is surrounded by dozens of smaller dwarf galaxies. These will occasionally pass through the disk of the Milky Way, disrupting both it and the incoming satellite. One such collision occurred in approximately 100 million BC. This was confirmed by observations of 300,000 nearby stars, whose motions indicated a reverberation or "ringing" like a bell. The stars were found to be moving up and down at speeds of 20-30 kilometres per second while orbiting the centre of the galaxy at 220 kilometres per second.
It would take a further 100 million years (from the time of this observation) for this motion to stabilise and for the Milky Way to stop reverberating. By now, the north-south asymmetry has disappeared and the vertical motions of stars in the solar neighborhood have reverted back to their equilibrium orbits.*
Atlantic Ocean begins to close
ridge is causing the Americas and Africa to begin moving back together.
Australia has become fully merged with Indonesia and Antarctica.
completes one galactic year
our Sun has completed another clockwise revolution around the galaxy
- the 21st in its lifetime so far.
orbit is roughly elliptical, with perturbations due to the galactic
spiral arms and non-uniform mass distributions. In addition, the Sun
oscillates up and down relative to the galactic plane, around 2.7 times
passage through the higher density spiral arms has coincided with mass
extinctions on Earth, due to increased impact events.
speed of the Solar System around the center of the Galaxy is approximately
solar eclipses are no longer possible on Earth
tidal acceleration, the distance of the Moon from the Earth has been
increasing by approximately 3.8cm each year. By 600 million AD, the
distance has increased by nearly 23,000 km. At the same time, the Sun
has been growing in size by a significant amount.
As a result,
the Moon is no longer big enough in the sky to completely cover the
Sun's disk, making total eclipses impossible. This is true even when
the Moon is at perigee and the Earth is at aphelion.
gravitational influence of the Moon is affecting Earth's oceans - with
smaller waves and less variation in tide heights.
Sagittarius dwarf galaxy has been absorbed into the larger Milky Way
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.*
discovered, astronomers thought that Sag DEG had already reached an
advanced stage of destruction. However, later observations showed that
it still had coherence, as a dispersed elongated ellipse. It appeared
to be moving in a roughly polar orbit around the Milky Way, reaching
as close as 50,000 light years from the galactic core. Computer simulations
indicated that stars ripped out from the dwarf would be spread out in
a vast "stellar stream" along its path, and these were subsequently
may have orbited the Milky Way as many as ten times, prior to being
swallowed up. Its ability to retain some coherence, despite such strains,
would indicate an unusually high level of dark matter in that galaxy.
is becoming too hot to support liquid water
The Sun's luminosity has increased by 10%, causing Earth's surface temperatures to reach an average of 47°C (116°F).* As the
seas and oceans begin to evaporate, the atmosphere is becoming laden with water vapour,
creating an intense greenhouse effect. Mars is actually becoming more
habitable during this time.*
Andromeda Galaxy has begun to collide and merge with our own
Milky Way galaxy
The earliest recorded observation of Andromeda - the nearest spiral galaxy to our own - was made in the year 964. Persian astronomer, Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, described the object as a "small cloud". The first description based on telescopic observation was given by German astronomer Simon Marius in 1612. Charles Messier catalogued it as M31 in 1764 and incorrectly credited Marius as the discoverer, unaware of Al Sufi's earlier work. The first photographs were taken in 1887 by Isaac Roberts, and the first radio maps were produced in the 1950s by John Baldwin.
Later observations confirmed the size, distance and velocity of Andromeda. It was found to be the largest galaxy in the Local Group, with over a trillion stars - at least twice as many as the Milky Way. It was 2.5 million light years from Earth and moving at 250,000 miles per hour. It was also found to be on a collision course: heading directly towards the Milky Way.
By 3,800,000,000 AD, a full-scale merger is underway.** A single, giant elliptical galaxy will eventually be formed. Stars and
planets within each galaxy almost never collide, however, as galaxies
are extremely diffuse. Such mergers
are in fact relatively common. Andromeda, for example, collided
with at least one other galaxy in the distant past.
Credit: NASA; ESA; Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI; T. Hallas, and A. Mellinger
is a red giant
inner planets of the solar system have been destroyed and absorbed by
the ballooning Sun. Its radius has now expanded by over 200 times.
is shrinking to become a black dwarf
the Sun's mass has been ejected, forming a planetary nebula. Having
ended its main sequence life, it now begins to cool and dim - changing
from a dense white dwarf into a cold, inactive black dwarf.
Virgo Supercluster is converging into a single galaxy
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.
are also converging, but are now separated from each other by billions
of light years due to the acceleration of dark energy.
A significant percentage of galaxies are beginning
to "burn out", having been depleted of the gas clouds required
to form stars.
beyond the Local Supercluster are no longer visible*
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.
the highest energy gamma rays, a redshift of 1053 means their
wavelength is stretched to greater than the physical diameter of the
of this, any remaining intelligent life today may no longer be able
to obtain new empirical data on the state of large-scale structures
on scales observed in the past.
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. This includes once famous stars
such as Proxima Centauri, Barnard's Star and Wolf 359. The
Milky Way galaxy is becoming a dark, empty place dominated by enormous
era, the only energy being generated in the universe is through proton
decay and particle annihilation. Neutron stars, white dwarfs and black
holes are now the only remaining objects. Due to extreme age, all of
the planets and moons have disintegrated and decayed into their constituent
atomic particles, or else been absorbed into stellar remnants.
holes and subatomic particles remain. The universe has expanded so much
that these individual particles may be separated from each other by
truly enormous distances. Black holes themselves are now evaporating
by Hawking radiation.
2 It is unlikely that Earth would be affected. Even if the gamma ray jets
point in our direction, the solar system will likely be protected by a Dyson
shell (or similar giant structure) by then. Less developed colonies
in other star systems might not be so fortunate, however.
3 "...the outermost arc will collide with the bar in just 5000 years, with the red supergiant star itself hitting the bar roughly 12,500 years later." See Betelgeuse Braces for a Collision: Red Supergiant Star to Crash Into Dusty 'Wall', Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122105615.htm
Accessed 24th January 2013.
4 "There is a 17 mile Exclusion Zone around Chernobyl where officially
nobody is allowed to live, but people do. These "resettlers"
are elderly people who lived in the region prior to the disaster. Today
there are approximately 10,000 people between the ages of 60 and 90 living
within the Zone around Chernobyl. Younger families are allowed to visit,
but only for brief periods of time.
the land could be utilized for some sort of industrial purpose that would
involve concrete sites. But estimates range from 60–200 years before
this would be allowed. Farming or any other type of agricultural industry
would be dangerous and completely inappropriate for at least 200 years.
It will be at least two centuries before there is any chance the situation
can change within the 1.5-mile Exclusion Zone. As for the #4 reactor where
the meltdown occurred, we estimate it will be 20,000 years before the
real estate is fully safe."
7 "We will ultimately saturate all of the matter and energy in our
area of the universe with our intelligence... All of this dumb matter
and energy around us will wake up and become sublimely intelligent. Then
it will spread out to the whole universe at the fastest speed information
can flow. And one could make an argument that it’s not going to
take an infinitely long time because there may be other ways to get to
other parts of the universe through shortcuts like wormholes, which physics
has postulated. Eventually the whole universe will, essentially, wake
up." The technology of universal intelligence, KurzweilAI: http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-technology-of-universal-intelligence
Accessed 12th February 2011.