If you look at the sky in the southern hemisphere of the earth on a clear night, you can see it: The Large Magellanic Cloud is by far the brightest satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. This was not always the case. Only about 1.5 billion years ago, the cloud reached our neighborhood. Until now, science has assumed that the Great Magellanic Cloud will either orbit the Milky Way for many billions of years or flee back into space due to its high speed. However, new simulations of the British University of Durham now come to a different conclusion. Accordingly, the Milky Way and the Large Magellanic Cloud are on a direct crash course: According to calculations, the collision occurs in about 2.4 billion years.
Earth would be too hot anyway
Compared to a human life, of course, this is an incredibly long period of time. However, looking at the entire history of outer space, it is only a very short period of time. For humanity, however, the collision of the two galaxies seems to be of minor importance anyway. Because in 2.4 billion years, the warming sun will inflate to a red giant star. It would be too warm for human life on earth anyway. Theoretically, it is of course conceivable that humanity has until then found a new home within the Milky Way. However, the researchers' simulation was not precise enough to give detailed statements about the effects for each solar system.
The effects on our solar system are still unclear
The only thing that is clear is that the collision will activate the black hole in the middle of our Milky Way and take up large amounts of matter. Specifically, the mass of the black hole will multiply eightfold. This in turn should lead to the fact that high-energy radiation is emitted, which can also hit individual stars. The scientists therefore assume that a significant number of stars in the adjacent halo is thrown. This could also apply to our solar system – but this can not be predicted exactly. The galaxy of the Milky Way and the Great Magellanic Cloud will then exist for nearly six billion years – before the next collision with the Andromeda Galaxy occurs. At least the simulation of the British researchers reaches this conclusion.
Via: Monthly Notices