Our Milky Way Will Collide With Another Galaxy

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A collision between our galaxy and another one will happen sooner than scientists expected. However, there is no reason to worry yet. This won’t happen during our lifetimes, and researchers believe that it won’t take place for another 2 billion years. “While 2 billion years is an extremely long time compared to a human lifetime, it is a very short time on cosmic timescales,” explained Marius Cautun, a postdoctoral fellow at Durham’s Institute for Computational Cosmology.

“There is a small chance that we might not escape unscathed from the collision between the two galaxies which could knock us out of the Milky Way and into interstellar space,” added Cautun. The black hole of our galaxy would be directly affected by the collision as well. “Barring any disasters, like a major disturbance to the solar system, our descendants, if any, are in for a treat: a spectacular display of cosmic fireworks as the newly awakened supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy reacts by emitting jets of extremely bright energetic radiation.”

The collision is overdue

As weird as it might sound, it appears that such a collision would be the normal thing to happen. In fact, our galaxy would need it in order to become a regular one. If we compare the Milky Way with the Andromeda galaxy we can see that ours is behind the schedule when it comes to consuming other galaxies.

“This represents very slim pickings when compared to nearby galaxies of the same size as the Milky Way. For example, our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, devoured galaxies weighing nearly 30 times more than those consumed by the Milky Way. Therefore, the collision with the Large Magellanic Cloud is long overdue and it is needed to make our galaxy typical,” explained Dr. Alis Deason of Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology.


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