Our galaxy is on a collision course with Andromeda galaxy. In 2012, from the reading of Hubble telescope, scientists concluded that the collision of Milky Way and Andromeda is imminent and a sure thing to happen. Currently Andromeda galaxy is hurdling towards the Milky Way galaxy with a speed of nearly 110 Kilometers/second. But, don’t worry, neither you nor I would be alive to witness such a magnificent collision. According to the calculations the collision would occur 4.5 billion years from now.
Illustration of milky way and andromeda galaxies collision(COSMOS series)
It is estimated that the Andromeda galaxy has around 1 trillion stars where our galaxy has somewhere between 100 to 400 billion stars. Although the number is huge, the chances of stars collision is very much an unlikely event to occur (except the stars near the galactic center). How? Well, consider this, the closest star system to our solar system in our galaxy is 4.2 light years away, next closest being Rigil Kentaurus at a distance of 4.3 light years and the third closest Barnard’s Star being 6 light years away from our sun.
Our solar system being on the edge of the arm might have no effect or slight effect due to the collision. The most spectacular collision is between the two super massive black holes, one in centre of our galaxy and one at the centre of Andromeda galaxy. The resultant galaxy would be named as Milkdromeda or Milkomeda. But who knows? Will human be able to survive for that long to name the resultant galaxy?
The title says three but you read just two galaxies. No it’s not a mistake. The third galaxy, the Triangulum galaxy is expected to participate in the collision event. It’s funny to say a galaxy is participating in its death. Three of the largest galaxies Andromeda, Milky Way, Triangulum in our local cluster will meet their fate in nearly 4.5 billion years. Imagine collision of 3 super massive black holes in the center of the galaxies and collision of small/interstellar black holes. The amount of energy released and the debris field is unimaginable.
Illustration of Milky way , Andromeda and Triangulum galaxy collision. This is one of the many simulation. In other simulations , it shows that even Triangulum galaxy will me collided.
What should the newly formed galaxy be named? Milkdromedaum? Comment below.