This is a picture of our home galaxy’s nearest spiral neighbor – The Andromeda Galaxy, boosting of 1000000000000 (one trillion!!!) stars. It is the largest galaxy in the local universe. It will be visiting us very soon (~ 4.5 billion years) and it has already started moving towards us – at a velocity of approximately 120 kilometres per second!! When our Sun was born, Andromeda and Milky Way were 4.2 million light-years apart. And they’re now only 2.6 million light-years apart.
Though I will be long long dead by then, still it is scary to think of the collission!! But interestingly I found in Wikipedia a very nice comparison of this galaxy merger if it happens. It says – ”The chance of even two stars colliding is negligible because of the huge distances between them. For example, the nearest star to the Sun is Proxima Centauri, about thirty million solar diameters away. If the sun were a ping-pong ball in Paris, the equivalent Proxima would be a pea-sized ball in Berlin.”
And if by some chance, we do not have a direct merging but the two giants sweep pass each other, then as Abraham Loeb and his colleague has predicted in their paper , there is a small chance that the Solar System could be ejected from the Milky Way or join Andromeda. 🙂 Interesting predictions!!
Anyways, for anyone who wishes to look at this beautiful spiral galaxy in more details, enjoy this video –