Composite image showing a very bright glowing oblique spiral several times larger than the crescent moon.

Andromeda galaxy precise measurement? Sure. This picture really depicts what the night time sky would appear to be if the Andromeda galaxy – the galaxy subsequent door – have been brighter. Authentic background shot of the moon by Stephen Rahn. Andromeda galaxy picture through NASA. Composite photograph by Tom Buckley-Houston. Not satisfied? Right here’s the same picture from APOD.

The picture above is making the rounds on social media this week. It’s true. The neighboring Andromeda galaxy occupies concerning the width of 6 moon-diameters on our sky’s dome. However, in fact, the galaxy isn’t practically this brilliant. You want a darkish sky to see it, and, even then, it’s a barely seen fuzzy patch of sunshine. So as to seem as brilliant as within the picture above, the Andromeda galaxy would must be nearer. If it have been shut sufficient to look so brilliant, it will seem even larger on our sky’s dome. And that’s going to occur sometime! The Andromeda galaxy is at present racing towards our Milky Method at a pace of about 70 miles (110 km) per second. Finally, the 2 galaxies will merge. Between now and that eventual merger, any beings alive on Earth will see the Andromeda galaxy get larger and larger and BIGGER in our night time sky.

The Andromeda galaxy is now about 2.5 million light-years away from us. The artist’s ideas beneath, launched by NASA in 2012, present what’s going to occur to Earth’s night time sky because the Andromeda galaxy hurtles towards us.

Eight panels with night sky views ranging from today's through a chaos of stars to a smooth background glow.

View bigger. | This collection of illustrations reveals the anticipated merger between our Milky Method galaxy and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.
First row, left: Current day.
First row, proper: In 2 billion years the disk of the approaching Andromeda galaxy is noticeably bigger.
Second row, left: In 3.75 billion years Andromeda fills the sector of view.
Second row, proper: 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, proper: In four billion years Andromeda is tidally stretched and the Milky Method turns into warped.
Fourth row, left: In 5.1 billion years the cores of the Milky Method and Andromeda seem as a pair of brilliant lobes.
Fourth row, proper: In 7 billion years the merged galaxies type an enormous elliptical galaxy, its brilliant core dominating the nighttime sky.
Picture through NASA/ ESA/ Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI/ T. Hallas/ A. Mellinger.

The descriptions above are primarily based on painstaking Hubble Area Telescope measurements of the movement of the Andromeda galaxy, adopted by pc modeling of the inevitable future collision between the 2 galaxies. A collection of research printed in 2012 confirmed that – reasonably than glancing off one another, as merging galaxies typically do – our Milky Method galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy will in reality merge to type a single large elliptical, or football-shaped, galaxy.

The Milky Method and Andromeda galaxies gained’t be the one ones concerned on this merger. As proven within the video beneath, the opposite giant galaxy in our Native Group of galaxies – M33, aka the Triangulum galaxy – may even play a job. On this video, you’ll acknowledge the Triangulum galaxy because the smaller object close to the Andromeda and Milky Method galaxies. Though the Triangulum galaxy doubtless gained’t be a part of the merger, it could sooner or later strike our Milky Method whereas engaged in a terrific cosmic dance with the 2 bigger galaxies.

Throughout the universe, galaxies are colliding with one another. Astronomers see galactic collisons – or their aftermaths – by means of their telescopes. In some methods, when a galactic merger takes place, the 2 galaxies are like ghosts; they merely cross by means of one another. That’s as a result of stars inside galaxies are separated by such nice distances. Thus the celebs themselves sometimes don’t collide when galaxies merge.

That stated, the celebs in each the Andromeda galaxy and our Milky Method will probably be affected by the merger. The Andromeda galaxy comprises a few trillion stars. The Milky Method has about 300 billion stars. Stars from each galaxies will probably be thrown into new orbits across the newly merged galactic heart. For instance, in response to scientists concerned within the 2012 research:

It’s doubtless the solar will probably be flung into a brand new area of our galaxy …

And but, they stated,

.. our Earth and photo voltaic system are in no hazard of being destroyed.

How about life on Earth? Will earthly life survive the merger? Astronomers say that the luminosity, or intrinsic brightness, of our solar is because of enhance steadily over the subsequent four billion years. Because the solar’s luminosity will increase, the quantity of photo voltaic radiation reaching the Earth may even enhance. It’s potential that – by four billion years from now – the rise within the Earth’s floor temperature could have prompted a runaway greenhouse impact, maybe just like that occurring now on the planet subsequent door, Venus, whose floor is scorching sufficient to soften lead. Nobody expects to search out life on Venus. Likewise, it appears doubtless life on Earth is not going to exist four billion years from now.

What’s extra, our solar is evolving, too. It’s anticipated to turn into a crimson large star finally. The solar’s outer layers will swell into the house of the photo voltaic system in order that Earth itself is swallowed by the solar’s outer layers. That’s anticipated to occur about 7.5 billion years from now.

Maybe by that point, some earthly inhabitants could have turn into space-faring. Maybe we’ll have left Earth, and even our photo voltaic system. Do you assume so? Tell us within the feedback beneath.

Learn extra: Hubble Reveals Milky Method is Destined for Head-On Collision, through NASA in 2012

Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way - both as we see them in our sky - shown close together, appearing to begin a merger.

View bigger. | Artist’s idea of a stage within the predicted merger between our Milky Method galaxy and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, because it’ll unfold over the subsequent a number of billion years. On this picture, representing Earth’s night time sky in 3.75 billion years, Andromeda (left) fills the sector of view and begins to distort the Milky Method with tidal pull. Picture through NASA/ ESA/ Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI/ T. Hallas/ A. Mellinger.

Backside line: Billions of years from now, our Milky Method galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy are anticipated to merge. This publish comprises pictures and video illustrating the upcoming merger and exhibiting how the Andromeda galaxy will seem in Earth’s night time sky over the subsequent 7 billion years.

The M31 Velocity Vector. I. Hubble Area Telescope Correct Movement Measurements

The M31 Velocity Vector. II. Radial Orbit In the direction of the Milky Method and Implied Native Group Mass

The M31 Velocity Vector. III. Future Milky Method-M31-M33 Orbital Evolution, Merging, and Destiny of the Solar

Through NASA

Deborah Byrd