A Galaxy Far, Far Away...Will Hit Ours


The Milky Way and Andromeda are the leading members of a small family of galaxies recognized as the Local Group. Whereas the universe is growing and galaxies are usually getting farther and farther away from one another with time, the galaxies in the Local Group are bound together by family ties in the form of their mutual gravity. Our folks aren’t going anywhere.

And there is the difficulty. Andromeda and the Milky Way are in fact heading in the direction of each other in the do-si-do that set up life in a galaxy cluster. Recent measurements with the Hubble Space Telescope have established that they will hit head on in around two billion years. Since galaxies, like atoms, are generally empty space, they will pass through each other like ghosts, but gravity will disturb the stars and scatter them across space in enormous spectacular streamers. Ultimately they will unite into a single massive galaxy.

The bad news is that we will be gone. Earth will have been boiled and pasteurized ages earlier as the sun brightens. The good news is that the accident will be a carnival of new stars forming as that troublesome gravity collapses and then condenses clouds of gas and dust. New worlds, additional chance. Maybe.

Source: NYTimes



Milky Way

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