Our galaxy will collide with another one in 4 billion years time, says NASA. What do you think?
Scientists have known about this for some time now. It is nothing new. Our galaxy will collide with Andromeda, the nearest one to us, and other galaxies in our neighborhood of galaxies in the distant future. All these galaxies are drawn toward each other due to gravitational forces and will eventually form one elongated galaxy.
There is a dwarf galaxy on the opposite side of our galaxy from our point of view that is almost about to collide or has already intersected the galactic plane. It is hidden from our view by the center of our own galaxy, but it has been observed in other wavelengths so astronomers know that it is there. It is known as the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy and some of it has already spread out. There are hints of other collisions with rings around our galaxy at odd angles.
http://iopscience.iop.org/1538-4357/500 … .text.html
I'm working on a Hub on this very topic, in fact. It's a pretty fascinating finding, and I salute the astronauts who participated in the last Hubble servicing mission who made it possible.
As melpor said, it's nothing new. Astronomers have known for years that our galaxy and Andromeda were moving closer to each other. There was always a bit of mystery about the sideways motion of Andromeda, however - it was uncertain whether it would be a direct hit or glancing blow or near miss.
A good analogy would be a batter in a baseball game seeing a pitch coming his way. He knows it's headed in his direction and approximately how fast, but can't tell if it's going to be in the strike zone or will curve out of it. The new measurements from Hubble have given astronomers a much better understanding of that sideways motion, showing that it is likely going to be a direct hit.
When it happens, the night sky as viewed from out planet will be amazing. Too bad there will be nothing alive on Earth to see it.
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