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Earth's "southern" collision with the Andromeda galaxy will happen later than we thought – but the Milky Way is still condemned



MILKY WAY is on a collision course with a "juvenile" with a nearby galaxy – and a huge space stroke has a new term.

Scientists now believe we will attack Andromeda for 4.5 billion years, 600 million years later than we thought.

    Newly calculated paths of the Milky Way (Blue) and nearby galaxies Andromeda (red) and Triangulum (green)

ESA

Newly calculated paths of the Milky Way (Blue) and nearby galaxies Andromeda (red) and Triangulum (green)

But our galaxy is still condemned, because the encounter has led to the pair joining and changing the form of the Milky Way.

In the solar system, gravity is likely to attract the Sun into a new orbit, stretching the Earth and the other planets with it.

Researchers watched star positions in a nearby galaxy to calculate when Andromeda hit the Milky Way.

They have used data from Gaia's European Space Agency, which maps billions of stars to measure their location and speed.

    So the night sky of the Earth may appear when the two galaxies collide

nasa

So the night sky of the Earth may appear when the two galaxies collide

Star movements in the Milky Way, Andromeda and other nearby galaxies called Triangulum show that collision will happen later than thought.

The pair collapses in about 4.5 billion years – a relatively long amount that is longer than the estimates of 3.9 billion years that were calculated in previous studies.

It also indicates that the wound will be more "hips" than the head of the collision.

It will still cause a lot of disruption within two galaxies, probably curving the positions of millions of stars and planets.

    The scientists watched the stars (blue) in the Andromeda (arrows)

ESA

The scientists watched the stars (blue) in the Andromeda (arrows)

"This finding is key to our understanding of how the galaxy evolves and interacts," said Gaia Timo Prusti, a scientist.

Andromeda is an island of billions of suns so far, that its light lasts more than 2.5 million years before it waits for us.

The galaxy is currently racing on the Milky Way at 250,000 miles per hour – fast enough to twist around the world in just six minutes.

Conclusions are given in the Astrophysical Journal.

Earlier this year, a shock study showed that our galaxy could collide with a nearby galaxy known as the Great Magellanic Cloud (LMC).

Scientists have recently discovered that the Earth was "rocked" about one kilometer wide asteroid 12,000 years ago – it left behind a 19-kilometer crater.

Take a look at these amazing shots of the asteroid Benno, which could hit Earth in a catastrophic crash.

Are you afraid of our approaching collision with another galaxy? Let us know in the comments!


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