Our Milky Way galaxy is an anomaly in more ways than one. And now, NASA scientists say they know exactly when it will come to an end.
In a universe that is forever spreading apart, the Milky Way has been moving closer to celestial neighbor the Andromeda galaxy. But whether we are in for intergalactic Armageddon or an extraterrestrial fender bender has been a mystery – until now.
“Very interestingly, we find that Andromeda galaxy does appear to be coming straight at us,” said Roeland van der Marel, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. He was scheduled to speak at a NASA press conference Thursday.
The discovery was made thanks to images taken over the 22-year lifespan of the Hubble Space Telescope. But the quest to determine the Milky Way galaxy’s expiration date has been undertaken by astronomers for more than 100 years. Now, for the first time, NASA scientists say they know “with certainty” when our beloved galaxy will cease to exist as we know it, what it will look like and how it will happen.
New data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope proves, NASA says, that in 4 billion years the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide or pass each other by so closely that the gravitational force each exerts on the other will cause them to slow down to the point of merging. The merger will be completed 6 billion years from now.
When galaxies collide
At the outset of universal existence, Andromeda and the Milky Way were each going their separate ways, van der Marel said.
“They have been approaching each other for the last 5 billion years," he said. "For the first 8 billion years, they were moving away from each other, and now they are moving closer together – and that will continue, always.”
In our local universe, which consists of around 50 galaxies, according to van der Marel, the Milky Way and Andromeda are goliaths. There are two galaxies that have around one-tenth the mass of two giants, and the rest are less than 1%. Each exists at the center of its own universal microcosm, with smaller galaxies swirling around similar to a solar system.
It is the massive gravitational pull that ultimately drew the Milky Way and Andromeda together, and will ultimately cause them to become one.
“The clear finding is, we are going to merge with Andromeda,” van der Marel said. “In the past, it was just a possibility, but now it is a known fact that this will happen.”
The finding was determined by comparing pictures of the sky taken by the Hubble Space Telescope over a number of years and comparing the movement of the galaxies, allowing scientists to determine the trajectory of the Andromeda for the first time.
There is a 9% chance that M-33, a satellite galaxy of Andromeda, will hit the Milky Way first in what van der Marel called a "one-two punch," causing it to become a satellite of the new galaxy that is formed.
What an intergalactic merger looks like
Van der Marel described it as a “really big cosmic pileup” that will light up the sky.
When the two galaxies hit, each containing its own set of stars and cosmic gases, the result will be the formation of many new stars – all shining bright.
The Milky Way, as it exists now, is a flat disc shape similar to a frisbee. Andromeda is more spherical. When the two combine, they will form an "elliptical galaxy," or what van der Marel described as a football-shaped galaxy. Rather than seeing a band of stars on the cosmic horizon, someone on Earth would theoretically be surrounded by them as shown in a simulation unveiled to show what the night sky will look like in 6 billion years.
The new vision of the stars won't be the only earthly changes.
“Our sun and Earth will go on a new journey through the universe,” van der Marel explained.
When Andromeda gets here, the sun will likely be pushed out much farther into the universe. By that time though, Earth will have become too hot to be inhabited by humans anyway.
Our sun will not be directly hit when the initial collision happens in 4 billion years. But in 6 billion years, when the merger is complete, our sun will die.
Meaning in the cosmos
Life on Earth as we know it will certainly not be possible by the time this great galactic merger is expected to take place. But as van der Marel said, there are “many more uncertainties than the laws of physics,” and the human race may well have figured out how to carry on with existence.
"It's a very long time from now, so people don’t have to lie awake or take out insurance," van der Marel said. "What makes it really special is it is going to happen to us, it's our sun, it's our planet, and humans are really fascinated about what our fate is going to be."
Somebody ought to let Lemmy Kilmister know; he'll likely be around for this.
Scientists can't tell me with much better than 50/50 probability whether or not it will be raining in 4 days. However they can say with certainty "Our sun will not be directly hit when the initial collision happens in 4 billion years." Based on a whopping 22 years of observations or 0.00000055% of the time period in question.
Actually we do most of the 'expected' weather pattern in 4 days, even years ahead.
Generally at any specific time of the year we follow the seasons. We know in winter it most likely won't be 100, and in summer its unlikely it will rain.
Predictions based on known facts are quite accurate in an 'exact' sense.
Anyway even if it gets to a point of a thousand years before it hits we should have enough notification (assuming that our present 200,000 year ONLY existence of humankind won't be extinct way before then! (actually scientifically speaking, humans 'should' be extinct way before then, the chances of humans being around is MOST unlikely)
By the way depending upon where you live, its likely that it will rain sometime this month, better coat up :)
The entire written history of humanity is – in round numbers – maybe 10,000 years, 10 millennia. Just 600,000 more of those to go before the big merger will be complete. I gotta' imagine we will have spread our wings all over Creation by that time.
Humankind is about 200,000 years old NOT 10,000.
And from now until then (impact) is 2999,800,000 (ie 4 BILLION subtract a measly 200K)
Because pure hydrogen does not occur naturally, it takes energy to manufacture it. There are different ways to manufacture it, such as, electrolysis and steam-methane reforming process. In electrolysis, electricity is run through water to separate the hydrogen and oxygen atoms. This method can be used by using wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, fossil fuels, biomass, and many other resources.`"*
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This is just like how they also predicted that the world was going to end december 21...ONLY GOD KNOWS WHEN THE WORLD WILL END!! Humans need to stop trying to predict when it's going to happen....
You do realize it was the god 'believers' that did that latest end of world date (there's been SO many that I just laugh when I hear these crazy church ideas). SCIENCE has ALWAYS stated BILLIONS of years. 'God' suggestion is just pathetic, we are in the modern era now, probably a good time to grow up.
it says that the world will be having MORe PROBLEMS , EPIC PROBLEMS :)
Yeah, Lol, Ha Ha, yeah that is funny.
I get it, wow. Mind you humans will be likely extinct by then.
But funny stuff :) :D KaBOOM! LOL
If our galaxy is moving farther away I'm given pause to wonder if billions of years ago our own Milky Way galaxy and others (Andromeda M82, Bodes,etc) were much like an intergalactic Pangaea. Perhaps other galaxies were much closer to each other and billions of years ago life was more abundant on other worlds and space exploration was more probable for the ancients due to the galaxies being in such close proximity to one another. Could that have happened?
"universe that is forever spreading apart"
In actual FACT, about 13.7 Billion years ago (only) absolutely everything we know about our entire universe (all of the thousands of billions and billions of galaxies) were ALL in one spot (or possible one plate). Although none of the galaxies (or planets) were even formed properly yet.
The Big Bang happened and gradually the galaxies evolved and stars etc etc etc. At which time they were STILL pretty close to each other. If you were on Earth 5 Billion years ago, there would have been a lot more stars to see.
On the flip side to all of this 'expanding'. In the distant future (well past even this local collision of two galaxies) IF you looked up at night time you may not see anything much at all (other than our own galaxy stars). It could then be reasonable that if you didn't know any better, you would probably think we are the ONLY galaxy in existence EVER. Even though other galaxies still exist except they are much much further away than the most powerful telescope x a million can see!
Which REALLY means that we are at the best time RIGHT NOW to explore the universe, because everyday we wait the "universe that is forever spreading apart"!
Does that make sense? Because I'm tired atm. :)
If Y2K was an OMG!! would this be a WTH OMG?
Well, I'm glad I read this. It's a real interesting thing to think about for a few minutes.
Whew, glad I don't have to take out insurance. I was afraid to ask how much Nationwide would charge me for that.
Bad news indeed for Vampires.
As Stephen Hawking said, man needs to venture out in the stars in order to continue. That is, if we even make it to the merger and changes our sun will go into (becoming a red giant and swallowing up the inner part of the solar system, making it too hot on earth). Along the way, we may war ourselves to death, become victim to deadly diseases, be hit by comets/asteroids, overpopulate and starve... there are so many ways for mankind to mess this up. And still, people don't believe, and don't plan. They stick their head in the sand...
The space program is important.. man must evolve. And not just physically or technologically.. spiritually or socially, we must evolve, if we are going to head these potential disasters off and survive. It's time to put away your childish toys and thoughts, mankind. We're all in this together, if you hadn't noticed.
What are they talking about? In 4 billion years the sun will have burnt out by then. It's already halfway through it's life.
We should develop a big giant booster rocket and hook it onto the Milky Way and change the trajectory so we just miss. Like in that commercial where a military person pushes a button that makes a satellite fire it's rocket at the last possible second to miss the hurling space debris. "Contact averted, sir".
Oh, I can't wait. I want to see it happen now.
There goes Jupiter here comes Mars.
Damn it, just merge already.
From my perspective, if the second comming hasen't ocurred by then mankind will simply nuke Jupiter and carry on as normal... It has the right elements to redily become a star and it is roughly the samde distence. Of course that will mean temporarily living undergroun and minimal exposure without proper protective clothing...
Like the Morlocks.
Some may take their chances and be the Eloi above ground.
Oh and that second coming thingy was funny too.
Yes that's right religos, your god wants you dead, now what do you think of him.
My head just exploded, well, it's about to, I mean....
I was going to put this on my Outlook calendar, but it doesn't go out that far. ;-(
l"like your neck" hehe
Yes it was meant to be a million days (approx) since April 1, 1601 (the starting date of calendar in Outlook)
The ending date is August 31, 4500 (being 1,058,990 days apart)
I hope MS fix this issue, because we are all going to miss this big event in 4 Billion years.
I can just see the complaints coming in, has anyone got a long term weather forecast? It better not be a cloudy day!
Right about when my students loans will be paid off.
I'd like to know how they know this with certainty when they can't even tell us what causes gravity. Should the properties of gravity change over time then their calculations are bunk- and yes gravity is slightly different on different spots of this planet alone. They also can't tell us why, how, or how fast space is expanding- although they do tell us that space slowed down and then started accelerating again, so how can they be so certain of these things when they have so many assumptions? a lot can happen in 6 billion yrs and seeing we only have a few decades of observations and “advanced” technology I would not call this certain but more of a best guess.
The moon is moving away from the earth and the universe is expanding, so My guess is that the gravity will be reduced as it's core material cool down and dense more.
Science can tell us what gravity is LOL. Maybe you should have stayed awake through those 7th grade science classes and you wouldn't be an internet conspiracy theorist.
This is not new news at all for anyone that follows this stuff or watches the History or Discovery channel programs. It's quite possible that due to the immense space between stars in both galaxies, that they'll merge without any disaster at all, which is what these programs have stated over and over. Anyway, it's not just that we'll never know how it'll go anyway and we can only guess, but one has to wonder if any lineage of the human race will be around that long from now, regardless of where those beings may migrate to. Surely, this story, the Internet, and Earth itself will be long, long forgotten way before this were to even happen, so it's all just for entertainment and not so interesting in the end.
I hope Harold Camping doesn't hear about this.
6 billion years from now eh, well since we'll all be dead (and none of this will even happen in the next 6 1/2 MILLION lifetimes) and humans will likely be extinct by then...Why does this matter again?!?!
Well, I wouldn't bring out the lawn chairs just yet.
One of my life question is answered.
life is an illusion, the most beautiful illusion will be the collision. I was born too early.....
"like your neck"... From the Rocky Horror Picture Show... ;-)
"The merger will be completed 6 billion years from now."
I'm sure the sleaze bags at Goldman Sucks are already busy trying to figure out how to screw everybody they can in the ultimate merger.
Its going to be an interesting time. The sun is supposed to become a Red Giant in 5 billion years anyway
So...because of 5 to 20 years– no give them the benefit of the doubt and say 5 to 100 years of pictures and research we think we can predict where our galaxy is going to move in 5,000,000,000 years? Hm. Something seems off.
well the astronomer did say "that Andromeda galaxy does appear to be coming straight at us" – that should be enough to be able to say anything "with certainty." Can't imagine what could possibly go wrong in 4 billion years... gotta love astronomers for always being right about all their "facts."
what about the fact that we are already colliding with the sagittarius dwarf?? must've missed that one
They prefer to be called little galaxies!
their calculations are way off: my calendar says 12/21/2012
That's wild, man! Because your post says "May 31st, 2012". You know, you can flip the pages back to June now.
The word "collision" isn't really accurate here as the odds of any objects physically colliding are very remote. Even though each galaxy has hundreds of billions of stars in them, they are spaced so very far apart. I think i saw this on an episode of The Universe, but an astronomer explained that if you used grains of sand to represent the stars, you would have to space them out about five miles apart from each other to represent the distances to scale. Although if Andromeda has a super massive black hole at it's center like our Milky Way has, that could be interesting.
it does have a SMBH, most galaxies do, especially well defined, older galaxies like ours and the andromeda.....either way unless that black hole is on a direct path towards our solar system we won't have much to worry about since the gravitational pull of each black hole will just cause them to orbit eachother until they finally merge and form an even larger black hole
don't forget, we'll be long gone before any of this even starts happening
Gee, Harold Camping wasn't even close!!
If they were first speeding apart and now closing in on each other, might that be the hint of a orbit,on a universe scale?
That makes more sense to me. Why wouldn't galaxies orbit each other?
There is so much space (pardon the pun) between star systems and planetary bodies that the chances of any of them actually colliding are extremely remote. The collision will only be the end of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies as we know them, but the stars and bodies that make them up will continue on just fine.
Good riddance. Earth is one gigantic crap can.
Well....at least it would be a cool sky before they collide with one another...by that time the Earth will be a crispy critter because the Sun will be a red giant and cook this planet.
right Jak, and you take this all as fact because a scientist says so (written by a chemistry major). what did you think of this quote:
So you fully believe that 22 years worth of observations (if that) can factually predict what will happen in 4 billion, let alone 6 billion, years? So if I observe every ship leave my shore for 22 years, and every single one of them falls off the far side of the horizon, I should go ahead and conclude that the earth is indeed flat? That's the way science works right? Observations lead to facts? Some of you so-called science believers should go back and study what science is really about. Most theories are eventually disproved and/or replaced by other theories. Let's bring a little scientific method back to our science please.
and the ever popular denial of science by the psuedo science of the faithful.
sorry "oh" but i'm not even a christian. just thought i'd point out the internal contradiction of pseudo-scientists. but thanks for making one more assumption about things you don't really know to be facts.
Chemistry major? But not astrophysics. Ah youth ... The problem with your argument is that there are techniques of which you are unaware that can be used to produce verifiable formulas. If you wish to challenge their conclusions you are welcome to. Unfortunately for you CNN article posts are not the correct forum to do that. By you making assumptions without knowing the data show you really do not know what the scientific method is ... maybe you will get to it next semester ... ;-)
okay i'll give you that there is no real data given and i haven't had the privilege of looking at it. point taken. i still stand by my questioning of the proclamation that this is now a known fact based on limited observation from a limited point in space. and no not astrophysics, but certainly 50 years of life that have shown me many changing theories within my lifetime. (would love to relive my youth in other ways, but you got that part wrong)
Limited point in space? The entire solar system has been moving pretty quickly through space, and the Earth goes around the Sun in space. We can triangulate over great distances just using observations points from a few days in our orbit around the sun. Go back to school and study harder. And start reading Science and Nature.
Kastaway is right, while I believe this to be calculable based on what we know, out knowledge base is very small. This article mentions that the milky wan and andromida have changed course in the past. There's nothing to say that there isn't a bigger, faster moving galaxy that will get close enough to influence their trajectory sometime in the next 4 billion years.
Hopefully the Pak Protectors will come and rescue us well before then.....that is if we haven't blown ourselves to bits.
I not worried as I will only be around for another 20 or 30 years !
Run like hell!!!!!!!!!!
Ah seen some a them there liddle critters. They was green liddle critters. Flyahin in one of them UFOs. Yep, ah seen all raht. Da government's ben coverin it all up!
I plan on taking a vacation at that on Vulcan.
"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine...
"New data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope proves, NASA says, that in 4 billion years the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide or pass each other by so closely that the gravitational force each exerts on the other will cause them to slow down to the point of merging. The merger will be completed 6 billion years from now."
Wow. Can you get any more irrelevant?
My fav quote from the article .... "And now, NASA scientists say they know EXACTLY when it will come to an end."
Sure, the earth will continue forever. However, it will be roasted to a cinder by the sun in about 4 billion years or so, so it won't be a very pleasant vacation spot for the meek. If it isn't consumed entirely by the sun, it will be obliterated and expelled into the cold vacuum of interstellar space. But, it's mass will surely exist in one form or another.
BTW, the Bible also said that light existed before the stars, and that Adam lived and procreated will into his 900s long after a snake spoke to Eve and Yahweh promised to kill them both if they ate a bit of fruit (which they did, and he didn't). Just FYI.
I hope andromeda hascomp and collision...
There is a 1 in 6 chance that LIGO might see the central black holes merge.
Actually most Christians don't think the earth is 5,000 old. And how do we handle it? Just fine. I'm personally looking forward to watching the collision – should be spectacular.
If there are intelligent lifeforms in the Andromeda galaxy, they could know this fact too. Perhaps they are more advanced and are tying to figure out a way to stop the complete annihilation of the galaxies.
The galaxies won't be annihilated. They will merge. The distance between individual stars is huge – bigger than Donald Trump's ego, so the vast majority of individual solar systems and planets will continue on their merry way unchanged by this cosmic event.
Looking at the picture, I'm sorta bummed that Sol is so far out in the sticks. How awsome would it be to look up in the night sky and see such a view!
Where does God's plan fit in this thing ?
I heard from a respected and revered Hindu Swami that a Big Bang is eventually followed by a Big Crunch and the cycle repeats infinitely .
Something cannot become nothing and nothing cannot become something !
The UNIVERSE was always there and continue to be there – in some form.
It is 'unscientific' to believe that the universe was 'created' at some point of time in the 'past' .
What exists is 'GOD' ! and existence cannot become non-existence !!
God's plans? Deity most likely has already seen the event happen and most likely it was amazing. Since "god" (as taught by the Judeo-Xtian cults) is both beginning and end, I suppose it will be quite a rush to see the universe poof into existance with one eye while watching it snuff itself out with the other eye. But we digress. The story is about GALAXIES colliding. Mere specks of dust in the UNIVERSE. It is neither about beginnings or endings of anything like the universe. Perhaps "meshing" would be a better term. And, yes, science has progressed far enough to say that some things are proven and not just theoretical. For instance, the theory of basic mathematics is considered proven but still is called a theory.
The article implies that the sun will be gone because of the merger with Andromeda. Not so. The sun will be "gone" either way because it will burn out in about 4.5 – 5 billion years, but the distance between stars is so huge that the chances of an Andromeda star having any impact on our sun are small. Hopefully 4 billion years is enough time for Virgin Galactic to figure out how to shuttle people to younger star systems.
What I a interested in is what will be left after Nibiru passes through in the next few months? How about you talk about that!
That's when our ancient alien "Gods" will return. You just wait and see!
I don't see anything about "forever" in "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Besides, why must that be taken literally? Jesus spoke in parables all the time; he was no stranger to metaphor. I just don't read that passage and think, "oh, the earth will exist forever"; I read it and think, "great, the meek will get theirs."
They say the human race may have figured out a way to survive elsewhere, but there's no way we won't have evolved and/or gone extinct as a species by then. In 4-6 billion years? Dinosaurs were still walking the earth only 66 million years ago. Modern humans have only persisted for about 200,000 years. It took about 5 million years for us to diverge from the other primates into our modern species. All life evolved in ~4 billion years. There's no way that on the timescale of 5 billion years - 1000 times the time span it took for us to become a species in the first place and longer than the span in which all life evolved - that we would still be human.
Just sayin'. Our descendants would look on us as we look at trilobites.
Galaxies start meeting in 4 billion years, simultaenously the sun eats
first 3 planets (includes Earth), becomes a white dwarf.
At 6 billion years the corporate merger is complete.
Man takes a picture of the new night sky, film at 11, stay tuned.
Is that about right CNN ??
To be fair, they didn't say the artist's rendition was a view from the Earth. The view would not be much different from millions of other locations in the galactic neighborhood.
"So I walk on uplands unbounded, and know that there is hope, for Thou didst mold thee out of dust to have consort with things eternal." –The Dead Sea Scrolls
Thanks for contributing to he discussion about the article... in some way, I suppose.
Very nice, thanks for sharing.
Oh Jr, you're so naive... Oh Jr, si que eres ingenuo. Pobre de ti que crees eso.
A disturbance in the Force. We will feel it!! The life form known as man will cease to exist.
The life form know as man will certainly have killed itself off long before 4-6 billion years comes around. This is another useless piece of information science has come up with to tease modern man. We probably paid a few billion dollars to get the guestimate too.
The timing to when our sun gets hot and the galaxies merge is definitely no coincidence! Same reason why our planet is in the habitable zone, why it has a core, why it has right amount of water and carbon for life..etc etc..
Again, no coincidence that Jupiter moons will become habitable as Earth becomes less habitable......this possibilities make our future consciousness possibility to exist into another billions of years.....just like what seems to be a pile of lucky chances make our consciousness possible.
silly goose, the fish in my fish tank think the rocks are 5 billion years old...it matches their belief system...I bought it all 3 wks ago at petco...foolish foolish designed and created people...quatum physics already has proved you are living in a sub set reality of a greater one..a designed one.
Silly .. You talk to your fish and they told you what they think?! counterpoint failure
Nothing like a dose of space news to remind us that we aren't even the flash of a firefly at sunset in the lifespan of the universe.
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