How to hit Post-Christmas Treasures, the implacable Brexit and the prospect of a new nuclear weapons race were not enough to stifle ghosts, astronomers reported that a nearby galaxy would land on the Milky Way and could strike our solar system far beyond the cosmic gap .
The unfortunate discovery was made after scientists ran computer simulations for the movement of the Great Magellanic Cloud (LMC), one of the many satellite galaxies orbiting the Milky Way. Instead of circulating at a safe distance or getting rid of the gravitational force of the Milky Way, the researchers found that the LMC is destined to hit the galaxy we call home.
Currently, the LMC is estimated to be about 163,000 light-years from the Milky Way and acceleration of 250 miles per second. But the simulations of astrophysicists at the Durham University show that the LMC will ultimately slow down and turn back to us, and finally break into the Milky Way about 2.5 billion years.
While individual stars and planets are unlikely to collide, the arrival of a galaxy of 250 billion suns will still cause chaos. "The whole Milky Way will be shaken and the whole Solar System can be thrown into space," says Carlos Frank, director of the Institute for Computer Cosmology at Durham. "If that happens, I do not see how our descendants, if we have them, will be able to withstand it."
However, not all are unhappy and gloomy. The chances of a collision throwing the solar system in a more revered region of space are small, researchers report in the Monthly Notifications of the Royal Astronomical Society. Marius Kouutun, the first author of the newspaper, said the chances of cosmic exile were about 1-3%.
In a sense, the LMC collision has long since been delayed. The Milky Way is strange among the spiral galaxies. The aura of stars surrounding its galactic disk contains far fewer stars than comparable galaxies. But that's not all. The supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way is insignificant, only one-tenth massive like those found in the hearts of similar galaxies.
The galactic merger will change all of this. "Once the LMC will turn into a milky way, our galaxy will become a beautiful, normal spiral," said Frank. "Most of the haloes will become stars from the LMC, and the black hole will catch up with this sudden unexpected fuel abundance and go to the knowledge."
The LMC has huge amounts of gas, which will be swallowed by a supermassive black hole, until it reaches 10 times its current mass. As it feeds, a black hole will become "active" and will send powerful high-energy radiation aircraft. While intense rays of gamma radiation can potentially cause mass extinction, radiation from a black hole is unlikely to pose a threat to any life that can exist on Earth, the authors write.
In the past, astronomers worried about the death of the Milky Way, focused their attention on the upcoming collision with the Andromeda galaxy. In five times the mass of the Great Magellanic Cloud, Andromeda can completely destroy the Milky Way when both collide. This cosmic catastrophe is expected in about four billion years.
But the merger with the LMC may delay the disaster, Frank said. "One of the by-products of the collision with LMC is that it will defer armagedgeon," he said. "It will move the Milky Way a little and it can buy us billions of years.
"LMC is great, but it will not completely destroy our galaxy," he said. "It will produce these incredible fireworks, but there is no mass to create a major disorder. The clash with Andromeda will truly be Armageddon. It will really be the end of the Milky Way, as we know it."