While astronomers estimate that the Andromeda galaxy will collide with our own Milky Way galaxy 8 billion years from now, they now believe that another collision will happen even sooner.
The Large Magellanic Cloud will catastrophically collide with the Milky Way in 2 billion years, according to a study published this month in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“The destruction of the Large Magellanic Cloud, as it is devoured by the Milky Way, will wreak havoc with our galaxy, waking up the black hole that lives at its center and turning our galaxy into an ‘active galactic nucleus’ or quasar,” Marius Cautun, study author and postdoctoral fellow at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, said in a statement.
“While this will not affect our Solar System, there is a small chance that we might not escape unscathed from the collision between the two galaxies which could knock us out of the Milky Way and into interstellar space.”
The Milky Way galaxy itself is about 13.5 billion years old, so hasn’t it survived galactic collisions before?
“Barring any disasters, like a major disturbance to the Solar System, our descendants, if any, are in for a treat: a spectacular display of cosmic fireworks as the newly awakened supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy reacts by emitting jets of extremely bright energetic radiation,” Carlos Frenk, study co-author and director for the Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, said in a statement.
Done Katch’ng up but want to read more? Read more here.