Milky Way to collide with Andromeda
(Top Posts - Science - 011605)

(Original post made April 27, 2000, updated January 16, 2005)

God's Plan? Looks like a natural event (free of
so-called 'intelligent design' [i.e., God]), to me ...

Collision Course
(link no longer available)

Excerpt: "Stick around for about 3 billion years,
and you should be in for a spectacular show.

Of course, if you want to see the whole thing, you’ll
have to live an additional billion years or so, give or
take a few centuries.

Using one of the most powerful computers on the
planet, scientists have found more evidence that
our Milky Way galaxy, with about 400 billion stars
including the sun, is on a collision course with a
somewhat larger galaxy, Andromeda. ..."

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April 14, 2000



“Within three billion years, the Milky Way will be
swallowed up and merged with the Andromeda galaxy.”

The 2.2-million-light-year gap between the Milky Way
and Andromeda is closing at about 500,000 kilometres
an hour, he explains. That pace will quicken as the two
galaxies near each other.

... life on Earth – whatever it may be – will probably live
through and witness the entire merger over the billion-year
dance of the two galaxies, he says. The reason is that the
expected lifetime of our sun is projected to last another
five billion years. Plus, the likelihood of stars and planets
slamming into each other is very low because the distance
between them is so vast. The interaction will be “collision-
less,” with the most significant effect involving huge gravi-
tational distortions of the systems as they coalesce.

At some point three billion years hence, the night sky will
be completely filled by the approaching Andromeda galaxy
and when the two galaxies intersect there will be two bands
of light arching overhead – looking like two Milky Ways,
says Dubinski. With the merger, two possible fates await
the sun and Earth – we could be flung into the depths of
intergalactic space and escape the galaxy forever or hurled
into the centre of the merging pair where new stars will be

And for those on Earth, it will be a spectacular display of
galactic fireworks, he says. Massive stars near the sun will
be exploding as supernovae at such a rate that the night sky
will be bright enough to read a newspaper.


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