Upcoming catastrophic galaxy collision can send solar system flying into space

Christopher Davidson
January 7, 2019

A neighbouring galaxy is hurtling towards the Milky Way on a collision course which could shift Earth outside the Goldilocks zone, making it too hot or too cold for life, scientists have warned. However, there are a lot of scientific suggestions about exactly what could happen to the Milky Way.

According to a new study carried out by the astrophysicists at Durham University, in the United Kingdom, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) would hit the Milky Way, our home galaxy, in about two billion years.

This collision is not expected to affect our own solar system in any way, although Cautun notes there is a "small chance" it could be knocked out of the Milky Way and interstellar space.

Two irregular dwarf galaxies less than 200,000 light-years from the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds can be seen in the night sky with the naked eye. After the collision, the supermassive black hole thought to rest in the center of the Milky Way could grow up to ten times its current size. However, that's about to change, and computer models suggest that the LMC will eventually collide with our galaxy in a chaotic, swirling mess that might even throw our Solar System out into space.

This study has been published by The Royal Astronomical Society. Scientists say larger galaxies are surrounded by smaller satellite galaxies orbiting around them in a way similar to how bees move around a hive.

You may be aware that the huge and handsome spiral galaxy Andromeda will plow into the Milky Way about 5 billion years from now, livening up the night skies of any Earth creatures who are still around to look up.

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But recent measurements suggest it has almost twice as much dark matter as we bargained on. "This is where [the researchers] with their models show how a merger in two to three billion years with our largest satellite galaxy will make us average again: larger more active central black hole and more stars of typical chemical composition in the surrounding of the Milky Way".

Marius Cautun revealed that these powerful jets of high-energy radiation will not affect the solar system in which we live in.

Although the crash is a long way off, it could end life on Earth two billion years.

Co-author Professor Carlos Frenk said."Beautiful as it is, our Universe is constantly evolving, often through violent events like the forthcoming collision with the Large Magellanic Cloud". In the past scientists have been concerned about a possible collision between the Milky Way and another much bigger Galaxy called Andromeda, which could happen in about 4 billion years' time.

Dr Alis Deason, of Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology, said: "We think that up to now our galaxy has had only a few mergers with very low mass galaxies".

"This represents very slim pickings when compared to nearby galaxies of the same size as the Milky Way".

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