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Our Galaxy is Destined for Head-on Collision

milky way andromeda galaxy collision hubble galaxies

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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 10:12 PM

NASA'S Hubble Shows Milky Way is Destined for Head-on Collision



www.nasa.gov said:

May 31, 2012

J.D. Harrington Headquarters, Washington 202-358-5241 j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

Ray Villard Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore 410-338-4514 villard@stsci.edu

RELEASE : 12-159

NASA'S Hubble Shows Milky Way is Destined for Head-on Collision


WASHINGTON -- 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.

"Our findings are statistically consistent with a head-on collision between the Andromeda galaxy and our Milky Way galaxy," said Roeland van der Marel of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore.

The solution came through painstaking NASA Hubble Space Telescope measurements of the motion of Andromeda, which also is known as M31. The galaxy is now 2.5 million light-years away, but it is inexorably falling toward the Milky Way under the mutual pull of gravity between the two galaxies and the invisible dark matter that surrounds them both.

"After nearly a century of speculation about the future destiny of Andromeda and our Milky Way, we at last have a clear picture of how events will unfold over the coming billions of years," said Sangmo Tony Sohn of STScI.

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 4 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.

To make matters more complicated, M31's small companion, the Triangulum galaxy, M33, will join in the collision and perhaps later merge with the M31/Milky Way pair. There is a small chance that M33 will hit the Milky Way first.

The universe is expanding and accelerating, and collisions between galaxies in close proximity to each other still happen because they are bound by the gravity of the dark matter surrounding them. The Hubble Space Telescope's deep views of the universe show such encounters between galaxies were more common in the past when the universe was smaller.

A century ago astronomers did not realize that M31 was a separate galaxy far beyond the stars of the Milky Way. Edwin Hubble measured its vast distance by uncovering a variable star that served as a "milepost marker."

Hubble went on to discover the expanding universe where galaxies are rushing away from us, but it has long been known that M31 is moving toward the Milky Way at about 250,000 miles per hour. That is fast enough to travel from here to the moon in one hour. The measurement was made using the Doppler effect, which is a change in frequency and wavelength of waves produced by a moving source relative to an observer, to measure how starlight in the galaxy has been compressed by Andromeda's motion toward us.

Previously, it was unknown whether the far-future encounter will be a miss, glancing blow, or head-on smashup. This depends on M31s tangential motion. Until now, astronomers had not been able to measure M31's sideways motion in the sky, despite attempts dating back more than a century. The Hubble Space Telescope team, led by van der Marel, conducted extraordinarily precise observations of the sideways motion of M31 that remove any doubt that it is destined to collide and merge with the Milky Way.

"This was accomplished by repeatedly observing select regions of the galaxy over a five-to seven-year period," said Jay Anderson of STScI.

"In the worst-case-scenario simulation, M31 slams into the Milky Way head-on and the stars are all scattered into different orbits," said Gurtina Besla of Columbia University in New York. "The stellar populations of both galaxies are jostled, and the Milky Way loses its flattened pancake shape with most of the stars on nearly circular orbits. The galaxies' cores merge, and the stars settle into randomized orbits to create an elliptical-shaped galaxy."

The space shuttle servicing missions to Hubble upgraded it with ever more-powerful cameras, which have given astronomers a long-enough time baseline to make the critical measurements needed to nail down M31's motion. The Hubble observations and the consequences of the merger are reported in three papers that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

For images, video, and more information about M31's collision with the Milky Way, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/...ay-collide.html

http://hubblesite.org/news/2012/20


For more information about NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

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Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 08 June 2012 - 07:22 PM.
Added tag

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#2    Artaxerxes

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 10:29 PM

How fun!  I can't wait!   I need some excitement in my life.


#3    Jeffertonturner

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 10:40 PM

I was interested until I hit the "four billion years from now" part.

~Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while -and do whatever you want all the time -you can miss it.~

#4    spud the mackem

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 11:14 PM

We should start looking for an Anti-galaxy shelter..or emigrate !

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#5    shaddow134

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:49 PM

The night sky will look pretty interesting in 4 billion years time.

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#6    Jester Harlot

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:05 PM

I plan on being reincarnated a few more times, so I will probably get to see it!

Too bad I won't remember reading about it, though. Lol.


#7    sickpuppy

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:08 PM

wasp, can you pm me when it gets near?

My contribution is deciding how giant mutant space goats travel in space.
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#8    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:31 PM

View Postunit, on 01 June 2012 - 04:08 PM, said:

wasp, can you pm me when it gets near?
I'm afraid not, I'm going to be away that day.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#9    spud the mackem

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:33 PM

View PostJester Harlot, on 01 June 2012 - 04:05 PM, said:

I plan on being reincarnated a few more times, so I will probably get to see it!

Too bad I won't remember reading about it, though. Lol.
  Hi,Snow White did a hibernation thing,I guess we have to get an apple from the bad Queen, any idea where she lives ?

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#10    Capt Amerika

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 05:03 PM

How much do these guys get paid again?
I predict that in 3 Billion years the moon will be further away from the earth than it is today.
Now someone pay me for this earth shattering news.

Edited by Capt Amerika, 01 June 2012 - 05:04 PM.


#11    jules99

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 05:07 PM

Cool animations of what would be an amazing sight if we had the time. The Earth would just be a hot rock by then anyway, oceans boiled off etc and the sun would be approaching its best before date also..


#12    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 05:43 PM

View PostCapt Amerika, on 01 June 2012 - 05:03 PM, said:

How much do these guys get paid again?
I predict that in 3 Billion years the moon will be further away from the earth than it is today.
Now someone pay me for this earth shattering news.
There is a VAST difference between providing evidence for something that was previously suspected but not proven and making a post on an internet discussion forum.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 01 June 2012 - 05:50 PM.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#13    ThickasaBrick

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 07:42 PM

The moon is moving away from the Earth at about 3.8 centimeters per year. After the Andromeda collision we, generally speaking, will be on another collision course with the Shapley Supercluster.


#14    Johhny Doowhop

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:38 PM

This is old... They new about this in 2007...


#15    dharma warrior

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 12:57 AM

But I was just getting settled in at my new place!
Seriously, I know 4 billion years seems like a long time, but it's gonna go by in the blink of an eye!





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