Big Crunch

Big Crunch

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Big Crunch'
Start a new discussion about 'Big Crunch'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
In physical cosmology
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

, the Big Crunch is one possible scenario for the ultimate fate of the universe
Ultimate fate of the universe
The ultimate fate of the universe is a topic in physical cosmology. Many possible fates are predicted by rival scientific theories, including futures of both finite and infinite duration....

, in which the metric expansion of space
Metric expansion of space
The metric expansion of space is the increase of distance between distant parts of the universe with time. It is an intrinsic expansion—that is, it is defined by the relative separation of parts of the universe and not by motion "outward" into preexisting space...

 eventually reverses and the universe recollapses, ultimately ending as a black hole
Black hole
A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

 singularity
Naked singularity
In general relativity, a naked singularity is a gravitational singularity, without an event horizon. In a black hole, there is a region around the singularity, the event horizon, where the gravitational force of the singularity is strong enough so that light cannot escape. Hence, the singularity...

.

Overview



If the universe is finite in extent and the cosmological principle
Cosmological Principle
In modern physical cosmology, the cosmological principle is the working assumption that observers on Earth do not occupy an unusual or privileged location within the universe as a whole, judged as observers of the physical phenomena produced by uniform and universal laws of physics...

 (not to be confused with the cosmological constant
Cosmological constant
In physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...

) does not apply, and the expansion speed does not exceed the escape velocity, then the mutual gravitational attraction of all its matter
Matter
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

 will eventually cause it to contract. If entropy
Entropy
Entropy is a thermodynamic property that can be used to determine the energy available for useful work in a thermodynamic process, such as in energy conversion devices, engines, or machines. Such devices can only be driven by convertible energy, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency when...

 continues to increase in the contracting phase (see Ergodic hypothesis
Ergodic hypothesis
In physics and thermodynamics, the ergodic hypothesis says that, over long periods of time, the time spent by a particle in some region of the phase space of microstates with the same energy is proportional to the volume of this region, i.e., that all accessible microstates are equiprobable over a...

), the contraction would appear very different from the time reversal of the expansion. While the early universe was highly uniform, a contracting universe would become increasingly clumped. Eventually all matter would collapse into black holes, which would then coalesce producing a unified black hole or Big Crunch singularity.

The Hubble Constant measures the current state of expansion in the universe, and the strength of the gravitational force depends on the density and pressure of the matter and in the universe, or in other words, the critical density of the universe. If the density of the universe is greater than the critical density, then the strength of the gravitational force will stop the universe from expanding and the universe will collapse back on itself. Conversely, if the density of the universe is less than the critical density, the universe will continue to expand and the gravitational pull will not be enough to stop the universe from expanding. This scenario would result in the 'Big Freeze
Heat death of the universe
The heat death of the universe is a suggested ultimate fate of the universe, in which the universe has diminished to a state of no thermodynamic free energy and therefore can no longer sustain motion or life. Heat death does not imply any particular absolute temperature; it only requires that...

', where the universe cools as it expands and reaches a state of entropy
Entropy
Entropy is a thermodynamic property that can be used to determine the energy available for useful work in a thermodynamic process, such as in energy conversion devices, engines, or machines. Such devices can only be driven by convertible energy, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency when...

. Some theory that the universe could collapse to the state where it began and then initiate another Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

, so in this way the universe would last forever, but would pass through phases of expansion (Big Bang) and contraction (Big Crunch)

Recent experimental evidence (namely the observation of distant supernova
Supernova
A supernova is a stellar explosion that is more energetic than a nova. It is pronounced with the plural supernovae or supernovas. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months...

 as standard candles, and the well-resolved mapping of the cosmic microwave background) has led to speculation that the expansion of the universe is not being slowed down by gravity but rather accelerating
Accelerating universe
The accelerating universe is the observation that the universe appears to be expanding at an increasing rate, which in formal terms means that the cosmic scale factor a has a positive second derivative, implying that the velocity at which a given galaxy is receding from us should be continually...

. However, since the nature of the dark energy
Dark energy
In physical cosmology, astronomy and celestial mechanics, dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space and tends to accelerate the expansion of the universe. Dark energy is the most accepted theory to explain recent observations that the universe appears to be expanding...

 that is postulated to drive the acceleration is unknown, it is still possible (though not observationally supported as of today) that it might eventually reverse sign and cause a collapse. Dark energy is, however, still a speculative theory.

See also


  • Gravitational collapse
    Gravitational collapse
    Gravitational collapse is the inward fall of a body due to the influence of its own gravity. In any stable body, this gravitational force is counterbalanced by the internal pressure of the body, in the opposite direction to the force of gravity...

  • Big Bounce
    Big Bounce
    The Big Bounce is a theoretical scientific model of the formation of the known universe. It is implied by the cyclic model or oscillatory universe interpretation of the Big Bang where the first cosmological event was the result of the collapse of a previous universe.- Expansion and contraction...

  • Big Rip
    Big Rip
    The Big Rip is a cosmological hypothesis first published in 2003, about the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the matter of the universe, from stars and galaxies to atoms and subatomic particles, is progressively torn apart by the expansion of the universe at a certain time in the future...

  • Heat death of the universe
    Heat death of the universe
    The heat death of the universe is a suggested ultimate fate of the universe, in which the universe has diminished to a state of no thermodynamic free energy and therefore can no longer sustain motion or life. Heat death does not imply any particular absolute temperature; it only requires that...

  • Cyclic model
    Cyclic model
    A cyclic model is any of several cosmological models in which the universe follows infinite, self-sustaining cycles. For example, the oscillating universe theory briefly considered by Albert Einstein in 1930 theorized a universe following an eternal series of oscillations, each beginning with a...

  • Ultimate fate of the universe
    Ultimate fate of the universe
    The ultimate fate of the universe is a topic in physical cosmology. Many possible fates are predicted by rival scientific theories, including futures of both finite and infinite duration....

  • Arrow of time
    Arrow of time
    The arrow of time, or time’s arrow, is a term coined in 1927 by the British astronomer Arthur Eddington to describe the "one-way direction" or "asymmetry" of time...

  • Entropy (arrow of time)
    Entropy (arrow of time)
    Entropy is the only quantity in the physical sciences that requires a particular direction for time, sometimes called an arrow of time. As one goes "forward" in time, the second law of thermodynamics says, the entropy of an isolated system will increase...

  • Cosmological principle
    Cosmological Principle
    In modern physical cosmology, the cosmological principle is the working assumption that observers on Earth do not occupy an unusual or privileged location within the universe as a whole, judged as observers of the physical phenomena produced by uniform and universal laws of physics...