It is a certitude that our Milky Way will crash into the Andromeda galaxy at one point. However, there is no reason to panic, as this is something that will happen in billions of years. A new research managed to pinpoint the date for the future collision.
Researchers used observations from the Gaia spacecraft and they came to the conclusion that the crash will take place 4.5 billion years from now. “This finding is crucial to our understanding of how galaxies evolve and interact,” Gaia project scientist Timo Prusti declared.
Back in December 2013 Gaia was launched, and its main objective is to help researchers construct an accurate 3D map of the Milky Way. This would help scientists understand the galaxy better than before.
“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,” lead author Roeland van der Marel, of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore said”
It appears that Gaia does its job properly, and it even managed to exceed the expectations of the scientists. The data provided by Gaia was used for numerous studies, including the one that determined how the collision will occur. It appears that the crash will be more of a sideswipe, and the solar system shouldn’t be too affected. However, if humans will still live on Earth then, they will see a magical night sky.
“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,” Prusti added. “The longer [that] Gaia watches the tiny movements of these galaxies across the sky, the more precise our measurements will become.”