To be clear, it is very, very, very slowly dying.
In a paper demurely titled "Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA): Panchromatic Data Release (far-UV—far-IR) and the low-z energy budget," a group of scientists write that over the past two billion years, the energy coming from stars has been cut by half, and that we're likely to see a more dramatic decline in the next two billion years. A press release published by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) points out that this isn't a total surprise:
"The fact that the Universe is slowly fading has been known since the late 1990s, but this work shows that it is happening across all wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the infrared, representing the most comprehensive assessment of the energy output of the nearby Universe."
Star shine is what we see when stars turn mass into energy. The team looked at the energy output of more than 200,000 galaxies to reach their conclusions.
Simon Driver, who heads up the GAMA team, said to think of the universe (which is maybe a hologram) as creeping towards a nice cozy death: "The Universe will decline from here on in, sliding gently into old age. The Universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze."
Too bad we'll most likely have destroyed the Earth before we get to that pleasant-sounding demise.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.