The Future of our Solar System: Galaxies Collision
June 02, 2012
“NASA astronomers announced Thursday they can now predict with certainty the next major cosmic event to affect our galaxy, Sun, and solar system: the titanic collision of our Milky Way galaxy with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.
The Milky Way is destined to get a major makeover during the encounter, which is predicted to happen four billion years from now. It is likely the Sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed.”
“The scenario is like a baseball batter watching an oncoming fastball. Although Andromeda is approaching us more than two thousand times faster, it will take four billion years before the strike.
Computer simulations derived from Hubble’s data show that it will take an additional two billion years after the encounter for the interacting galaxies to completely merge under the tug of gravity and reshape into a single elliptical galaxy similar to the kind commonly seen in the local universe.
Although the galaxies will plow into each other, stars inside each galaxy are so far apart that they will not collide with other stars during the encounter. However, the stars will be thrown into different orbits around the new galactic center. Simulations show that our solar system will probably be tossed much farther from the galactic core than it is today.”
This is the Night Sky Over the Next 7 Billion Years :
- First Row, Left: Present day.
- First Row, Right: In 2 billion years the disk of the approaching Andromeda galaxy is noticeably larger.
- Second Row, Left: In 3.75 billion years Andromeda fills the field of view.
- Second Row, Right: In 3.85 billion years the sky is ablaze with new star formation.
- Third Row, Left: In 3.9 billion years, star formation continues.
- Third Row, Right: In 4 billion years Andromeda is tidally stretched and the Milky Way becomes warped.
- Fourth Row, Left: In 5.1 billion years the cores of the Milky Way and Andromeda appear as a pair of bright lobes.
- Fourth Row, Right: In 7 billion years the merged galaxies form a huge elliptical galaxy, its bright core dominating the nighttime sky.