A nearby galaxy on a collision course with the Milky Way

A neighboring galaxy – the Large Magellanic Cloud – could collide with our Milky Way within the next two billion years, British astrophysicists say. The collision could throw the solar system into the murky intergalactic void.

New research conducted by astrophysicistów from Durham University in the UK suggest that the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) could hit the Milky Way in two billion years. So far, catastrophic predictions have indicated that the nearest galactic collision, in which theórej will participate our Milky Way, will occur with eight billionóin years, but not with the LMC, but with the Andromeda galaxy.

Scientists based their claims on computer simulations of the movement of the Large Magellanic Cloud. This galaxy is the largest satellite galaxy orbiting wokóThe Milky Way. It is also one of the better understood galaxies located in our cosmic neighborhood.

The results of the British scientists’ research were published on „The Royal Astronomical Society”.

The collision will have catastrophic consequences. Researchers predict that it will awaken the black hole located in the center of the Milky Way, whichóra will begin to devour everything around it, increasing its size by as much as ten times. As it is consumed, high-energy radiation will increase significantly, in what scientists have described as a spectacular display of cosmic fireworksów.

– This phenomenon will generate powerful streams of high-energy radiation,” explained główny author of the publication Marius Cautun. – Although the radiation itself will not affect our solar system, there is a small chance that we will escape unscathed from this collision between two galaxies. The collision could even eject the solar system into interstellar space – admitted.

Our Milky Way is a big galaxy. It is surrounded by a group of smaller satellite galaxies, whichóre orbiting wokół it, like bees wokół ula. Usually these satellite galaxies lead a quiet life and surround their hosts for many billions ofóin years. But it occasionally descends to the center, collides and is devoured by its parent galaxy.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is the Milky Way’s brightest satellite galaxy. The galaxy appeared in the Milky Way’s neighborhood only about 1.5 billion years ago. The distance to the LMC is about 163,000. light years.

Until recently, astronomers thought the LMC would orbit aroundół of the Milky Way over billions of years. Another option, due to the high speed of the LMC, could be its escape from the gravitational pull of our galaxy. However, recent measurements indicate that the Large Magellanic Cloud has almost twice as much dark matter as previously thought. Its larger-than-expected mass causes it to expel energy faster, which in turn dooms it to collide with our galaxy.

– Although two billion years is an unusually long time in porówn relation to human life, it is very krótki time in the cosmic timeframe. Collision with the Large Magellanic Cloud will wreak havoc on our galaxy – Cautun pointed out.

– Our beautiful Universe is constantly evolving, often through violent events such as the impending collision with the Large Magellanic Cloud. If the solar system avoids catastrophe, our descendants, if in ogóle will still exist, they will have the pleasure of watching a spectacular display of cosmic fireworksów when an awakened supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy reacts by emitting extremely bright energy radiation – assessed Professor Carlos Frenk, in supportópublication author.

Scientists believe that our Milky Way has so far led an unusually quiet life. It has had only a few galactic collisions, and that with low-mass galaxies. – This is very little in the porówn relation to nearby galaxies of the same size as the Milky Way. Our closest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, has devoured galaxies with masses nearly 30 times that of które engulfed by the Milky Way – said Alis Deason of Durham University.