4 Billion Years from Now Andromeda and the Milky Way Collide

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The Andromeda--Milky Way collision is a galaxy collision predicted to occur in about 4 billion years between the two largest galaxies in the Local Groupthe Milky Way (which contains our Solar System and Earth) and the Andromeda collisionsWhile the Andromeda Galaxy contains about 1 trillion (1012) stars and the Milky Way contains about 300 billion (31011), the chance of even two stars colliding is negligible because of the huge distances between the stars. For example, the nearest star to the Sun is Proxima Centauri, about light-years ( km; mi) or 30 million (3107) solar diameters away. If the Sun were a ping-pong ball, Proxima Centauri would be a pea about 1,100 km (680 mi) away, and the Milky Way would be about 30 million km (19 million mi) wide, about 15 the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Although stars are more common near the centres of each galaxy, the average distance between stars is still 160 billion () km (100 billion mi). That is analogous to one ping-pong ball every km ( mi). Thus, it is extremely unlikely that any two stars would hole collisionsThe Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies each contain a central supermassive black hole, these being Sagittarius A* (ca. x 106 solar masses) and an object within the P2 concentration of Andromeda's nucleus (1-2 x 108 solar masses). These black holes will converge near the center of the newly formed galaxy, transferring orbital energy to stars that will be moved to higher orbits by gravitationally interacting with them, in a process that may take millions of years. When they come within one light year of one another, they will emit gravitational waves that will radiate further orbital energy until they merge completely. Gas taken up by the combined black hole could create a luminous quasar or an active galactic nucleus. As of 2006, simulations indicated that the future Earth might be brought near the center of the combined galaxy, potentially coming near one of the black holes before being ejected entirely out of the quasar, if it were to be created at the center of the Andromeda Galaxy, would be visible from Earth, and would be as bright as the full moon despite being 10,000 light years away.[citation needed] Its accretion disk would not be visible and it would appear as a blinking star due to atmospheric fluctuations.[citation needed] However, if a quasar were to be created at the center of the Milky Way, it would not be visible due to the dust between Earth and the galactic center. A quasar at the center of the Andromeda Galaxy would be brighter than one at the center of the Milky Way since the black hole at the center of Andromeda is larger than the Milky Way galactic center black on data from the Hubble Space Telescope, Milky Way galaxy and Andromeda galaxy are predicted to distort each other with tidal pull in billion years, as shown in this until 2012, there was no way to know whether the possible collision was definitely going to happen or not. In 2012, researchers came to the conclusion that the collision is definite after using the Hubble Space Telescope between 2002 and 2010 to track the motion of Andromeda. Such collisions are relatively common. Andromeda, for example, is believed to have collided with at least one other galaxy in the past, and several dwarf galaxies such as SagDEG are currently colliding with the Milky Way and being merged into studies also suggest that M33, the Triangulum Galaxy -- the third largest and brightest galaxy of the Local Group -- will participate in this event. Its most likely fate is to end up orbiting the merger remnant of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies to merge with it in an even farther future, but a collision with the Milky Way before our galaxy collides with M31 or being ejected from the Local Group cannot be ruled Credit: Visualization Credit: NASA; ESA; and F. Summers, STScI; Simulation Credit: NASA; ESA; G. Besla, Columbia University; and R. van der Marel, STScIPublic

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