ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Where Is The Limit of the Universe

Updated on July 23, 2012

Taking it as given that the big bang theory of the universe is broadly correct, the universe is expanding. Searching for images to help us visualize what is happening, scientists have come up with the example of an inflating balloon but the analogy is problematic. A balloon has a limit that separates the air inside from the air outside, but there is nothing outside the universe. That doesn't mean that there is noting in that realm beyond our universe. It means that the phrase beyond our universe is meaningless. The idea of a limit in the sense of a boundary,supposes that there is an outside and an inside to be separated, but there is not outside,so there can be no boundary.

A Limited Extent

Nonetheless ,it is reasonable to ask how far is this expanding universe has expanded. We know that the universe has existed for 13.7 billion years and we know that the fastest anything can travel is the speed of light. The distance that light travels in a year is called a Light-Year , so it might be reasonable to suppose that the maximum radius of the universe is 13.7 billion years..but no. There are two things wrong with that calculation. First, there is no central point from which the radius of the universe can be measured, because of the big bang theory was not like a bomb going off at a point in space. And second, as we learned when discussing space and time, matter is not moving through space in this expanding universe - space itself is expanding and it can do so at a speed that moves galaxies apart faster than the speed of light. The latest to estimate for the distance across the universe is 156 billion light-years!

Dark Energy seen in the present
Dark Energy seen in the present

The Shape of Things to Come

As the universe expands, it does so in opposition to the attractive force of gravity. It was therefore thought that the expansion must gradually slow down and that eventually gravity would take the upper hand , the universe would contract, and everything condensed into a big crunch, returning to a singularity. It might then go bang again, in a scenario that has been called big bounce, although the chances that all chips would fall the same way -that all the particles and forces would be identical to those in the universe - would be infinitely small. However, that was before it was discovered that the rate of expansion is increasing..which brings us to dark matter and dark energy.

  • Einstein recognized that if gravity bends light, celestial bodies could act as lenses, magnifying more distant objects. This phenomenon is now being used to locate the dense masses of dark matter, as these act as lenses in place where no matter can be seen.

The Dark Component

Imagine that not all mater is what we know is matter. Imagine that there's another kind ,the presence of which can only be inferred from unexplained gravitational effects. Well, it seems that this may be the case. This hypothetical invisible matter has been called dark matter, and there may even be more of it than there is ordinary matter. What's more, space maybe filled with a corresponding dark energy that is evenly spread throughout the universe. This would explain why the universe's expansion is accelerating than slowing - it is being powered by dark energy.

How Does It End

If the dark energy hypothesis is correct, the universe will continue to expand at an ever fast rate. The outcome thought most likely is that the universe becomes even colder, a scenario has been described as the big freeze.

If dark energy exerts an even greater force, a big rip could occur, in which the universe expands so fast that the forces holding the matter together are overcome, ripping all particles apart from each other and distributing matter evenly throughout the universe. But don't panic, the universe is expected to last at least one hundred billion years.

The concept of a boundary to the universe is meaningless, as there is nothing outside the universe, but the width of the expanding universe could be as much as 156 billion light years. The universe isn't infinite...yet.

There is a theory which states that if ever for any reason anyone discovers what exactly the universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another that states that this has already happened

- Douglas Adams (1952-2001) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)