Crash of the Titans: Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Collision
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.
The above illustrations depict the view of the night sky just before the predicted merger between our Milky Way galaxy and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. About 3.75 billion years from now, Andromeda’s disk fills the field of view and its gravity begins to create tidal distortions in the Milky Way.
The view is inspired by dynamical computer modeling of the future collision between the two galaxies. The two galaxies collide about 4 billion years from now and merge to form a single galaxy about 6 billion years from now.
Watch the video: http://youtu.be/fqjSgZdo5XE
Above: 1. (2 billion years from now) The disk of the approaching Andromeda galaxy is noticeably larger. 2. (3.75 billion years fron now) Andromeda fills the field of view. The Milky Way begins to show distortion due to tidal pull from Andromeda. 3. (4 billion years fron now) After its first close pass, Andromeda is tidally stretched out. The Milky Way, too, becomes warped.
WOW, kinda scary.