The Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest galactic neighbour, is on a collision course with us. Should happen in about 4 billion years though....phew
The Andromeda galaxy is our nearest galactic neighbour and it is huge. Our own Milky Way galaxy, that our Sun resides in, contains about 300 billion stars (3x1011). Where as, the Andromeda galaxy contains 1 trillion stars (1012). So what does this mean for our poor lightweight galaxy when the heavyweight hits? The answer is that the two will merge into one bigger galaxy some are calling, Milkomeda. As the two galaxies approach one another gravitational waves will be emitted that will cause stars in both galaxies to be flung around and some may be ejected all together from the galaxies. In addition the two supermassive black holes will merge and may start accreting enough matter to form a quaser. Strangely, despite all this commotion it is very unlikely any stars will hit each other. This is because the stars are so far apart. The average distance between stars being 100 billion miles.
What About Earth?
In 4 billion years when the collision is due to occur it is highly unlikely we will still be on the planet. The Sun will have become hotter and Earth would no longer be able to support liquid water on its surface. But, if we did find a way to survive and witness this event our Solar system probably wouldn’t change even though there is a 12% chance we would be flung out from the galaxy. Can you just imagine the view our night sky would have though? Although light pollution by then would probably be so bad we may not ever be able to see the night sky at all.
So What Will Milkomeda Look Like?
The newly formed galaxy will probably no longer be a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way currently is. It is likely the merger will result in an elliptical galaxy with less stars in the middle than current elliptical galaxies. Take a look at the video by Spacerip below that shows you what the view from our night sky would look like during this monster collision.
Even though Andromeda is flying through space towards us at the breakneck speed of 244,800 miles per hour the collision won’t occur for 4 billion years so don’t worry and sleep well.
Enjoy galaxy facts, here is the biggest galaxy known.
Find more on: Astronomy Science and News
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