Over the past two billion years, the energy coming from stars has been cut by half, and a dramatic decline is expected in the next two billion years.
It has been known since the late 1990s that the universe is fading, but the latest study shows that the demise is happening across all wavelengths – from ultraviolet to infrared.
Scientists from the Galaxy and Mass Assembly team studied 200,000 galaxies to reach their conclusions.
Team leader Simon Driver said: “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.”
All the energy in the universe was created in the Big Bang, with some of that energy locked up as mass.
Stars shine by converting mass back into energy, and the study examined how much energy was still being produced.
The team of researchers now want to map energy production over the entire history of the universe using new facilities – including the world’s largest radio telescope which is due to be built in Australia and South Africa over the next 10 years.