Have you ever wondered what happens when two galaxies collide?
Unless you’re a rocket scientist, probably not. But if humans stick around for another 4 billion years, they may determine the answer to a question nobody asked.
According to calculations based on new data from the Hubble Space Telescope, our own Milky Way galaxy is due to collide with its closest intergalactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, in 4 billion years’ time. The two star systems, which remain 2.5 million light years apart, are steadily converging due to mutual gravitational attraction.
The intergalactic collision, NASA assures us, will be far less violent than it sounds — because the stars in each system are so far afield, the likelihood of a destructive impact between two stars is extremely remote. The more likely scenario is a recalibration of orbital paths in accommodation of a new, conjoined galactic center.
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