The Milky Way and the nearby Andromeda galaxy are on a course of a frontal collision that will take place in four billion years, according to U.S. scientists who made this announcement after the systematic research using the Hubble telescope.
How and when will the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy collide?
The fact that the two galaxies were in the path that brought them together has been known for decades, but there was not enough information on the time and the type of collision.
Now, it turns out that the Andromeda galaxy (M31), which is located 2.5 million light-years away, is moving much faster than the Milky Way and will fill the space between the two galaxies.
In about four billion years, the galaxies will collide, but it will take another two billion years for them to merge completely. The image of the two galaxies will change dramatically and will create an elliptical galaxy with an irregular shape.
A smaller companion galaxy, the Triangulum (M33) is also directing to the point of impact and will probably merge with the new galaxy later.
How will this collision impact Earth?
Although the collision of the two galaxies sounds like a dramatic and exciting event, for the stars forming galaxies, it probably will not mean much. The empty space between stars is so large that even in such an intergalactic conflict, the probability they may encounter each other is too small.
This means that the Earth probably will not be in any danger. Of course, we don’t know what the living conditions on Earth will be like in four billion years. But as far as the collision between the two galaxies is concerned, our planet will remain in the solar system but will change the orbit around the center of the new galaxy.
Watch a video simulation of the collision based on the new data.
Featured image: NASA
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