Cosmic GDP crashes 97% as star formation slumps

Nov 06, 2012
This schematic diagram shows how the Universe is thought to have evolved from the Big Bang to the present day. Data from the UKIRT, VLT and Subaru observatories allowed the astronomers to take four precise and comparable snapshots of the Universe when it was, 2, 4, 6 and 9 billion years old, each containing hundreds of star-forming galaxies. By comparing the different snapshots, astronomers were able to accurately track what has changed over the last 11 billion years. Credit: Chandra / NASA / NOAO / KIPAC

(Phys.org)—While parts of the world experience economic hardship, a team of Portuguese, UK, Japanese, Italian and Dutch astronomers has found an even bigger slump happening on a cosmic scale.  In the largest ever study of its kind, the international team of astronomers has established that the rate of formation of new stars in the Universe is now only 1/30th of its peak and that this decline is only set to continue. The team, led by David Sobral of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, published their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The accepted model for the evolution of the Universe predicts that stars began to form about 13.4 billion years ago, or around three hundred million years after the Big Bang. Many of these first stars are thought to have been monsters by today's standards, and were probably hundreds of times more massive than our Sun. Such beasts aged very quickly, exhausted their fuel, and exploded as supernovae within a million years or so. Lower mass stars in contrast have much longer lives and last for billions of years.

Much of the dust and gas from was (and is still) recycled to form newer and newer generations of stars. Our Sun, for example, is thought to be a third generation star, and has a very typical mass by today's standards. But regardless of their mass and properties, stars are key ingredients of galaxies like our own Milky Way. Unveiling the history of across cosmic time is fundamental to understanding how galaxies form and evolve.

This diagram indicates the changing ‘GDP’ of the Universe over time. The new results indicate that, measured by mass, the production rate of stars has dropped by 97% since its peak 11 billion years ago. Credit: D. Sobral

In the new study, scientists used the UK (UKIRT), the Very Large Telescope () and the to carry out the most complete survey ever made of star-forming galaxies at different distances, with around ten times the data of any previous effort. With the range of distances, the time taken for the light to reach us means that we see identically selected galaxies at different periods in the history of the universe, so we can really understand how conditions change over time.

By looking at the light from clouds of gas and dust in these galaxies where stars are forming, the team are able to assess the rate at which stars are being born. They find that the production of stars in the universe as a whole has been continuously declining over the last 11 billion years, being 30 times lower today than at its likely peak, 11 billion years ago.

This diagram shows how the total mass of stars in the Universe should have changed over the last 11 billion years based on the new observations (lines) and how it actually did (symbols; different measurements by other teams). This provides an excellent agreement between both and strengthens the prediction of the new results that no more than a further 5% of stars will come into existence, even if we wait forever. Credit: D. Sobral

Dr Sobral comments: "You might say that the universe has been suffering from a long, serious "crisis": cosmic GDP output is now only 3% of what it used to be at the peak in star production!"

If the measured decline continues, then no more than 5% more stars will form over the remaining history of the cosmos, even if we wait forever. The research suggests that we live in a universe dominated by old stars. Half of these were born in the 'boom' that took place between 11 and 9 billion years ago and it took more than five times as long to produce the rest. "The future may seem rather dark, but we're actually quite lucky to be living in a healthy, star-forming galaxy which is going to be a strong contributor to the that will form."

"Moreover, while these measurements provide a sharp picture of the decline of star-formation in the Universe, they also provide ideal samples to unveil an even more fundamental mystery which is yet to be solved:  why?"

Explore further: Exoplanet measured with remarkable precision

More information: The work, led by David Sobral (started while he was based at the University of Edinburgh and completed at Leiden University), was also done by Ian Smail (Durham University), Philip Best (University of Edinburgh), James Geach (McGill University, Canada), Yuichi Matchuda (Caltech, USA), John Stott (Durham University), Michele Cirasuolo (ATC and University of Edinburgh) and Jaron Kurk (MPA, Germany).XXXXThe research appears in "A large H? survey at z=2.23, 1.47, 0.84 & 0.40: the 11 Gyr evolution of star-forming galaxies from HiZELS", D. Sobral, I. Smail, P. N. Best, J. E. Geach, Y. Matsuda, J. P. Stott, M. Cirasuolo, J. Kurk, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. A preprint of the paper is available from arxiv.org/abs/1202.3436

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VendicarD
3.5 / 5 (16) Nov 06, 2012
This is impossible, under Libertarian/Randite economic principles.

Hence the material universe is a welfare sucking, parasite living off the perpetual economic expansion of the free market vacuum.

Ayn Rand was the worlds greatest Quantum Cosmologist.
Caliban
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 06, 2012

The dying light model of the universe.

Well --why not?

It is logically consistent with observation. A finite amount of matter ever more diluted in expanding spacetime.
gopher65
4 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2012
I know you're just trolling VendicarD, but I've actually wondered about the real world implications of physics on economics.

A cursory look at several economic models (including Laissez-faire capitalism, and every type of communism I've looked at) through the eyes of physics suggests fundamental limits to each of these economic systems.

And on a more basic level, economic systems in general are limited by:
1) the amount of useable energy available in easy reach of the society,
2) the ability to utilize that energy, and
3) raw resources to turn into useful things.

If any of those three things are lacking, your economy cannot grow. Right now, for instance, energy prices are high enough that growth has been severely stunted in most of the world.

Does anyone know of a good book or three that talk about economics from this perspective? Books based on real, properly peer reviewed science, not crank trash.
VendicarD
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 06, 2012
Limits to Growth 1
Limits to Growth 2

obama_socks
1.7 / 5 (18) Nov 06, 2012
hahahahah...the fate of the Universe hangs in the balance - and VDturd is still worried about Obama and the Socialists. Pathetic
MrVibrating
1 / 5 (5) Nov 06, 2012
A fascinating new perspective on our place in proceedings, we're late to the party indeed..

unveil an even more fundamental mystery which is yet to be solved: why?

The dying light model of the universe. Well --why not? It is logically consistent with observation. A finite amount of matter ever more diluted in expanding spacetime.


You mean heat death? I get the impression the mystery here goes beyond Lambda and 2LoT - the implication being that the ratio of all matter bound up in stars has waned due to the influence of some other, unanticipated, variable...
omatwankr
2.3 / 5 (9) Nov 06, 2012
http://www.karlsh...nity.pdf
"This is an attempt to expose the essence of Samuelson's consumption-loan paradox.It is maintained that the double infinity of traders and dated commodities allows for competitive equilibria that are not Pareto-optimal. While such models are most interesting in the dynamic setting, the fact that generations do not meet is not essential.
The chain-letter aspect of the model reminds us that the appropriate form of the budget constraint is not obvious for the potentially infinitely long-lived economic entity (such as the corporation or the family). The analysis is related to recent contributions in the theories of general equilibrium, economic planning,and decentralization."

O'wnkr out
obama_socks
1.6 / 5 (13) Nov 06, 2012
@gopher65
The Laws of Supply and Demand are what drives any economy. In a bad economy, either supply or demand (or both) is compromised, and the only way to return to a good economy is to repair the damage and bring back good policies that again enable supply and demand to balance.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (12) Nov 06, 2012
Vote Fraud, thy Party is Republican.

http://www.youtub...Gd74DrBM
obama_socks
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 06, 2012
You might even say that this principle also applies to star creation.The supply of gases and all other star creation materials may not be available, while the demand for such materials is compromised due to circumstances which are beyond the ability of a galaxy region to produce the necessary materials. If those materials are not available within a distance that allows easy access to them, then no stars are formed in that region.
That's similar to the present demand of gasoline in New York City and New Jersey. The demand is great, even excruciating, but the supply wasn't there and the people used up whatever was available - just as stars use up their supply and their demand for more fuel can't be met.
obama_socks
1.4 / 5 (18) Nov 06, 2012
Oh pipe down, VD. President Romney is good for the USA. He will fix things and make the booboo better. (sob)
VendicarD
3.8 / 5 (10) Nov 06, 2012
A 16.3 trillion dollar Republican booboo?
Argiod
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 06, 2012
Personally, I think the 'Big Bang' theory flies in the face of Physics; which states as its foundation: energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it merely changes form. Also, if everything we can perceive was in one infinitesimal point, it would be the Granddaddy of Black Holes, and the gravity would be so great there would not be enough energy to make it go bang.
thermodynamics
3.7 / 5 (6) Nov 06, 2012
Personally, I think the 'Big Bang' theory flies in the face of Physics; which states as its foundation: energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it merely changes form. Also, if everything we can perceive was in one infinitesimal point, it would be the Granddaddy of Black Holes, and the gravity would be so great there would not be enough energy to make it go bang.


No, you didn't finish the sentence. The sentence should read:

"energy can neither be created nor destroyed BY ORDINARY CHEMICAL MEANS."

The other part of physics you don't seem to understand is quantum fluctuations. They allow a balanced formation of energy and mass out of any small enough space. That is the basis for quantum foam.

The big bang is a self consistent theory that continues to be tested, but it seems to be a winner so far. Your argument is just not close to real. When did you take your physics course?
VendicarD
5 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2012
Then you don't have a proper appreciation of what the Big Bang was.

"I think the 'Big Bang' theory flies in the face of Physics" - Argoid

Higher energy densities = slower speed of light, = slower rates of contraction = infinite time to the singularity.

VendicarD
5 / 5 (6) Nov 06, 2012
"Also, if everything we can perceive was in one infinitesimal point, it would be the Granddaddy of Black Holes"

You exist on the surface of a black hole of course.
GenteelWolf
1 / 5 (9) Nov 06, 2012
Themodynamics,

Quantum Foam may as will be God with a capital G. Big bang is a result of humans personifying the universe with our deaths.

My opinion only. I bet were both wrong.
DavidW
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 07, 2012
With virtual particles there is no "finite" amount of matter.
Nor is "finite" consistent with observations of the size of the universe. Observations show a trend of accelerating expansion and in all that expansion there is even more room for virtual particles.
Caliban
4 / 5 (1) Nov 07, 2012
With virtual particles there is no "finite" amount of matter.
Nor is "finite" consistent with observations of the size of the universe. Observations show a trend of accelerating expansion and in all that expansion there is even more room for virtual particles.


Ok, I'll ask the question, then.

Do the virtual particle pairs annihilating produce enough matter density per unit volume of space (even over potentially infinite time)to become gravitationally bound and form gas clouds, stars, galaxies?

eachus
3 / 5 (2) Nov 07, 2012
And on a more basic level, economic systems in general are limited by:
1) the amount of useable energy available in easy reach of the society,
2) the ability to utilize that energy, and
3) raw resources to turn into useful things.


Fundamental misapprehension about economics. New 'better' products replace older products, and one thing that makes them better is a lower cost of manufacture due to lower energy and materials costs. The computer I am typing this on cost a lot less than the one I bought twenty years ago for more money, and this computer is almost exponentially more useful. Note that a lot of that improvement is in the form of information...software on the computer, new ideas, books and movies that are available for this computer to share with me, etc. The speed of the computer and of the internet which I was actually using then (well, actually the ARPAnet) have both improved, but so has the universe of information available, some 'for free' other info to buy.
eachus
1 / 5 (1) Nov 07, 2012
Eventually we will get to the limits of information storage and destruction. It doesn't cost anything to create information, so it has been proposed that when we get near the limits of (energy) costs for a computer, algorithms will be designed so that they destroy the minimum amount of information possible. Of course, you get into a conservation of information problem, where you want a program to destroy most of the information it creates and leave just the results, whatever they are.

But we are dozens of orders of magnitude from that future. The amount of information that can be stored in one atom is potentially huge, even without quantum computing, and spintronics is hoped to get to the point where one electron carries one bit (or qbit). Then we can start worrying about fundamental limits to GDP.
Kron
1 / 5 (6) Nov 07, 2012
Good points Vendicar. If the singularity (a point of infinite density) exists in the blackhole then the blackhole has infinite volume. So a Universe contained in a such black hole is infinite in size. We have, therefore, a finite boundary (event horizon) yet infinite space contained within. It takes infinite time to traverse infinite space.

This is actually a quite a beautiful concept, infinite space contained within finite bounds.

The Big Bang would then be better represented by a singular pull into infinite space. The more time that passes the further towards the singularity we get - (even though it forever remains infinitely far the energy density increases with approach), and the faster we go. This explains the accelerating Universe without the need for dark energy.

We always thought of inflation and expansion as outward stretch. Observation better fits inward pull. Some nice workable concepts here to play around with.
DavidW
1 / 5 (5) Nov 07, 2012

Do the virtual particle pairs annihilating produce enough matter density per unit volume of space (even over potentially infinite time) to become gravitationally bound and form gas clouds, stars, galaxies?


It would be interesting to see someone try and apply some math that gives us at least a general idea. We don't know if a ratio holds for space expansion with their creation. The rate of creation could reach filling everywhere if the expansion is fast enough ^growth.
My understanding is that the separation of the positive and negative particles from pairs generates free real particles and that it is possibly based on a minimum space/distance. They could become separated at the event horizon of a black hole or even by more than one pair appearing next to each other in certain arrangements, effectively causing 2 or more particles to roam free.
If it can happen, given enough time, it will. It would nice to have some models with the general known/estimated parameters.
averageman
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 07, 2012
Its those damn pesky freloaders. Planets, planetoids, dust and gasses taking up matter but not giving any light back. Just floating around doing nothing.
Then you have the other end with those pesky black holes and pulsars trying to horde everything. Only giving what they have to back into the equation.
Its a conspiracy I tell you. You are all just lazy good for nothing freeloaders, you all need to get back to making stars. Sacrifice.
averageman
1 / 5 (3) Nov 07, 2012
people.
Shinobiwan Kenobi
1.7 / 5 (11) Nov 07, 2012
Oh pipe down, VD. President Romney is good for the USA. He will fix things and make the booboo better. - Obamaphobe_voting_against_his_own_best_interests_and_believing_it's_a_fantastic_idea!


How does bringing back Bush's economics and further deregulation fix the problem those things caused?

GSwift7
2.5 / 5 (8) Nov 07, 2012
A fascinating new perspective on our place in proceedings, we're late to the party indeed..


Actually, we are fortunate to live in such a quiet time. The earlier days of rapid star formation and destruction would not have been as hospitable for life.

We may live in a cosmological sweet spot right now. Our solar system happens to have a great ratio of volatiles/metals, our star is relatively stable, we aren't too close to any cosmic death rays from active black holes, we don't have any impending supernovae nearby, etc.

Just like planets that have the perfect Goldilocks combination of properties to sustain life as we know it in a given star system, we are probably also in the Goldilocks time/place in the Universe as a whole.
zz6549
not rated yet Nov 07, 2012
We must campaign for stellar conservation! We'll start by outlawing supernovae and beginning a captive breeding program.
rubberman
2.8 / 5 (9) Nov 07, 2012
Oh pipe down, VD. President Romney is good for the USA. He will fix things and make the booboo better. (sob)


You must be lead researcher on the models denialists use to predict the future of climate.
Kron
1.2 / 5 (6) Nov 07, 2012
A particle and antiparticle both have real mass. PET scans use positron electron annihilation to produce 2 gamma photons of 511 KeV which travel roughly 180 degrees away from each other. The photons hit the detector and from this we figure out where the annihilation took place in space, from this we can produce a 3 dimensional image.

Virtual particle pairs do not come out energy free. Real energy is required for pair production.

Pair Production is the inverse of the annihilation process. 2 Gamma photons of energies above 511 KeV each can produce an electron (511 KeV) and a positron (511 KeV).

The Universe did not spontaneously arise out of nothing. Real energy is required to produce real particles.

Virtual particles borrow energy from another system when they momentarily spark into existence and return it upon annihilation.

At times when the virtual particles are made real no energy is returned. So if the energy is borrowed from a black hole and not returned, the bh loses mass.
Kron
1 / 5 (6) Nov 07, 2012
When the energy is borrowed from gamma rays, and annihilation is avoided, the rays lose that energy.

Both particles and antiparticles have real energy and real mass.

Virtual particles do not emerge out of nothing.

Energy can be converted from one form to another, it cannot be created or destroyed.
VendicarD
5 / 5 (1) Nov 07, 2012
Their annihilation is entrely unnecessary. Gravitation is the result of local field density and nothing more. So of the virtual particles add to the energy field density of the vacuum, they exhibit gravitation.

"Do the virtual particle pairs annihilating produce enough matter density per unit volume of space (even over potentially infinite time)to become gravitationally bound and form gas clouds, stars, galaxies?" - caliban
VendicarD
5 / 5 (1) Nov 07, 2012
Infnite space filled with meter sticks that are shrinking.

Why are the meter sticks shrinking? The rate of passage of time is increasing.

Why? Because the energy density of space is falling as it expands.

"The Big Bang would then be better represented by a singular pull into infinite space." - Kron
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (5) Nov 08, 2012
Well, the first real survey, and such a dishearthening result. The universe is _old_.

@ Caliban, MrVibrating:

"Tired light" models are rejected by observation many times over. Further, the inflationary standard cosmology which replaced big bang models a decade back (by embedding it with inflation et cetera) is self-consistent so there are no gaps or inconsistencies. No new cosmology will likely appear.

Specifically, the article doesn't discuss new cosmology or other fundamentally new physics. The fuzzy question at the end is about which mechanisms result in the observed rate of star formation. More mundane work, much like their survey, is predicted.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.4 / 5 (5) Nov 08, 2012
@ Argiod:

It is very strained to call the new cosmology "big bang" even if it retains its observations. Nothing in it contradicts physics, since the energy of the universe is zero. No energy is created or destroyed, merely transformed.

And it applied already to big bang cosmology. Energy is locally preserved. But as it happens in an expanding general relativity spacetime energy isn't globally defined, so again no energy is created or destroyed.

More generally, if you can swallow that spacetime expands into more spacetime, the role that energy playes shouldn't be a concern.

@ Caliban: Virtual particles is field disturbances but not particles, so no matter.

@ Vendicar_D: You can't define a rate of time different than 1 (= dt/dt). So, no changing metrics out of that.
VendicarD
5 / 5 (1) Nov 09, 2012
I am of course referring to the rate of change of time dt at epoch 1 with the rate of change of time dt' at epoch2.

dt/dt' <> 1
srikkanth_kn
1 / 5 (2) Nov 12, 2012
From "conserve natural resources to save planet earth" to conserve "cosmic resources to save universe". Looks like we have to think of conservation on cosmic scale (converting heavier elements to lighter ones and preventing matter dispersion across space ?)