Lord Kelvin's prediction of heat death indicates the eventual end to star formation in the observable universe. Have any astrophysicists made any predictions for the endurance of star formation in the observable universe?


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This is actually very well researched. Wikipedia has quite a good summary, stelliferous era ends after about $10^{14}$ years, assuming an expanding universe.

  • $\begingroup$ For comparison, the heat death of the universe could be reached after 10^1000 years, and quantum fluctuations could create a new universe after 10^10^100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 years $\endgroup$
    – James K
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ Where do you get the quantum fluctuations claim ? We do not, after all, have a reliable theory of universal creation (or even a quantum theory compatible with the extreme high energy densities of the early universe). $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JamesK: you misunderstand. What you've quoted is the calculated probability of such a fluctuation. It's like you saying that if the odds of a 0 in roulette are 1/37, the 0 will only come up after 37 spins. It would be more accurate to say that the quantum fluctuation to create a new universe is likely to happen once within the predicted timeframe, noting that "once" could be tomorrow, or not at all within multiples of the timeframe. That's the nature of probability. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ Hence "could". The idea is speculative, but to be more precise, the probabilty of eternal inflation starting is 10^-10^10^56 as discussed in arxiv.org/pdf/hep-th/0410270.pdf $\endgroup$
    – James K
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 7:02

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