Several billion years from now, our Milkyway Galaxy and our neighboring galaxy Andromeda are going to collide.
No need to panic or buckle your seat belts. Most galactic collisions don’t actual result in devastation. The two colliding galaxies generally form one newer, bigger galaxy.
For instance, scientists are fairly certain that Andromeda has already swallowed at least two other galaxies because there are over a trillion stars in Andromeda, which is many more than any other galaxy close to us. It also has more supermassive black holes near its core than other galaxies (we only have the one needed for galactic formation). So when we do bump into each other what will the end result be?
Probably something like the new image above taken from a combination of data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and other telescopes around the world. This particular galaxy collision happened about 7 billion years ago, but is a pretty good indication of how our two galaxies are going to merge.
The antenna galaxay is part way through the process of merging and some of the stars are traveling back to the central mass after being flung far afield. There is a slight possibility that the Earth, and some other star systems, could be flung into interstellar space. Left to travel the Universe alone.
But, as I said, not to worry, when this merger starts, in about 3.7 billion years from now, I plan on having my own planet safely tucked away in Orion. I hear the views are spectacular.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +