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"Lactomeda": astronomers expect an imminent collision between the Milky Way and Andromeda

“Lactomeda”: astronomers expect an imminent collision between the Milky Way and Andromeda

Three galaxies in the Arp 195 cluster show what the collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda would look like – NASA

The image corresponds to Arp 195, a cluster of three galaxies located 389 light-years from Earth in the Lynx constellation, in which its members ‘tear’ each other in a three-way gravitational pull. The fate that astronomers expect will also be the fate of the Milky Way 4.5 billion years from now, when it collides with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy and its satellite galaxy. The image was captured by the veteran space telescope just two weeks after the avalanche that nearly decommissioned it for good in late June. This is how I reviewed it ABC.

The Milky Way is one of the three largest galaxies in our environment. Together with Andromeda and the Triangle Galaxy (M31 and M33), in fact, the galaxy in which we live accounts for a significant part of the mass of the so-called Local Group, about thirty galaxies traveling together through space.

We’ve known for a long time that due to their immense gravity, Andromeda and the Milky Way, the two giants in the group, are destined to collide one day, something that will completely change our cosmic environment. When that happens, in about 4.5 billion years, the two galaxies will merge into a single, even larger galaxy, which astronomers have dubbed “Lactomeda.”

However, the 3D motions of galaxies within the Local Group remained unclear until recently, which did not allow us to learn many details about the future collision.

says Roeland van der Marel, of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA and lead author of a study published in 2019 in The Astrophysical Journal. We have now been able to do this using the second data package provided by Gaia.

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