The fate of our home galaxy is sealed: the Milky Way will collide (!!!) with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, as shown by new measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Our solar system is catapulted to a new place – in four billion (!!!) years, it is so far.
Our home galaxy is on crash course. For a long time, astronomers have known that the Milky Way and the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy are converging. Both race towards each other at about 400,000 kilometers per hour. Currently, the Andromeda galaxy is still about 2.5 million light-years away from us.
Until now, it was unclear whether the two galaxies would collide directly with each other, only streak or even miss. That was because the exact heading of the Andromeda galaxy was unknown. The US space agency Nasa reports now of new observation results, which solve the riddle
„After almost a century of speculation about the fate of the Andromeda galaxy and our Milky Way galaxy, we finally have a clear picture of what will happen over the next billion years,“ said Sangmo Tony Sohn of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore (US State of Maryland).
The „Hubble“ telescope was the first to measure the sideways movement of the Andromeda galaxy, said STScI team leader Roeland van der Marel. „Our observations are statistically consistent with a head-on collision between the Andromeda galaxy and our Milky Way galaxy.“
The cosmic crash begins, according to the researchers, in about four billion years – then it will take another two billion years.
During this time, the two spiral galaxies will merge into a large new elliptical galaxy.
Presumably, a slightly smaller galaxy, the Triangle Nebula, will be sucked in by the merged couple.
New place for the solar system
Our solar system, according to the researchers, is expected to be catapulted into a completely different place in the merged galaxy during the collision. However, nobody has to worry about its survival: According to the scientists, it will not be destroyed.
Colliding galaxies – unlike colliding cars – essentially fly through each other. Direct clashes of stars hardly occur. The galaxies, however, are tied together by their gravitational force and eventually fuse together.
In the course of the galactic collision, the earthly night sky will change dramatically, the researchers said.
Thus, the weak band of the Milky Way is initially supplemented by the ever-growing Andromeda spiral galaxy.
During the collision future observers could then observe a firework of star formation that ignites in the fluidized gas and dust masses.
According to the researchers, after the merging of the galaxies, the resulting elliptical galaxy will take up much of the night sky.
In about five billion years, however, our sun will swell to a so-called red giant.
This has to do with the fact that you are slowly emitting the nuclear fuel for the fusion reactions inside.
Then it will roast the inner planets of our solar system: Mercury, Venus and Earth, probably Mars as well.
© PHOTOGRAPHY BY NORBERT WEBER
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