Until now, the scientists believed that our home galaxy would collide with its closest neighbor, Andromeda, in 4.5 billion years. However, according to a new study, Milky Way would impact Andromeda Galaxy in 3.9 billion years, approximately 0.6 billion years sooner than previously theorized.
The new estimation has been made possible thanks to the ESA’s Gaia satellite, the same space probe that revealed the most accurate map of the Milky Way, earlier in 2018. “This finding is crucial to our understanding of how galaxies evolve and interact,” Gaia project scientist Timo Prusti, who was not involved in the study, said in a statement, cited by Space.com.
“Gaia launched in December of 2013 to help researchers create the best 3D map of the Milky Way ever constructed. The spacecraft has been precisely monitoring the positions and movements of huge numbers of stars and other cosmic objects; the mission team aims to track more than 1 billion stars by the time Gaia shuts its sharp eyes for good,” Space.com reported.
Milky Way, Our Home Galaxy, Would Impact With Andromeda Galaxy In 3.9 Billion Years
“We needed to explore the galaxies’ motions in 3D to uncover how they have grown and evolved and what creates and influences their features and behavior,” said the study’s leading author Roeland van der Marel from the Space Telescope Science Institute, in Baltimore. “We were able to do this using the second package of high-quality data released by Gaia,” he added.
“Gaia was designed primarily for mapping stars within the Milky Way — but this new study shows that the satellite is exceeding expectations and can provide unique insights into the structure and dynamics of galaxies beyond the realm of our own. The longer that Gaia watches the tiny movements of these galaxies across the sky, the more precise our measurements will become,” said Timo Prusti.
In short, Milky Way, our home galaxy, would impact Andromeda Galaxy, the closest neighbor we have, in about 3.9 billion years, by approximately 0.6 billion years than previously thought.
Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.