The Milky Way could hit another galaxy in 2B years

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Talk about your fender bender.

Although we do not have to worry anytime soon, our Milky Way galaxy could collide with a nearby galaxy (the Great Magellenic Cloud) in a "spectacular" cosmic collision of about 2 billion. years, according to a new study.

This could be of interest to future earthlings because the collision could bring down our solar system "out of the Milky Way and into interstellar space," said lead author of the study, Marius Cautun, from the University of Durham, UK.

Fortunately for our descendants – regardless of the species that still lives at that time – researchers say it is unlikely that this event will jeopardize life on Earth, according to Quartz.

The co-author of the study, Carlos Frenk, also from Durham, said that "except in the event of a disaster, as a major disruption of the solar system, our descendants, if any, will be fulfilled: a spectacular fireworks show. cosmic artifice as supermassive newly awakened the black hole in the center of our galaxy reacts by emitting jets of extremely bright energy radiation. "

The bars on the roof could be crowded that night.

In any case, "the destruction of the Great Magellanic Cloud, as it is devoured by the Milky Way, will wreak havoc in our galaxy," according to Cautun. This will turn the Milky Way into "a galactic core or active quasar," he said.

The event may seem far away for most people, but not for astronomers. "Two billion years ago, it's extremely long compared to a human life, but very little time on cosmic time scales," Cautun said in a statement.

The Great Magellanic Cloud is the brightest galaxy satellite of the Milky Way and has entered our "neighborhood" about 1.5 billion years ago, according to the study. It is about 163,000 light-years away from the Milky Way.

More: When galaxies meet: a picture of NASA shows a galactic goulash

The collision could occur much sooner than the expected impact between the Milky Way and another nearby galaxy, Andromeda, which scientists say will reach our galaxy in around 8 billion years.

The study was published on January 4 in the journal review Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.