In May of 2012, NASA announced with certainty that the neighboring Andromeda galaxy will collide with our Milky Way galaxy. The event will happen in approximately 4 billion years, so unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it.
Here’s what it will look like over the billions of years, photo and description from the original NASA article here.
- First Row, Left: Present day.
- First Row, Right: In 2 billion years the disk of the approaching Andromeda galaxy is noticeably larger.
- Second Row, Left: In 3.75 billion years Andromeda fills the field of view.
- Second Row, Right: In 3.85 billion years the sky is ablaze with new star formation.
- Third Row, Left: In 3.9 billion years, star formation continues.
- Third Row, Right: In 4 billion years Andromeda is tidally stretched and the Milky Way becomes warped.
- Fourth Row, Left: In 5.1 billion years the cores of the Milky Way and Andromeda appear as a pair of bright lobes.
- Fourth Row, Right: In 7 billion years the merged galaxies form a huge elliptical galaxy, its bright core dominating the nighttime sky.
Supposedly, because the stars in the galaxies are so far apart, there will be no collisions. The Sun and its planets will just be flung to another part of the galaxy as a unit.
Unrelated: I recently purchased cheap telescope from Walmart and was stunned to see the rings of Saturn through the eyepiece for the first time in my life. It didn’t seem real. I wasn’t able to get a great picture, but I did get this shot of the moon.