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Milky Way will bite dust: eventual collision with Andromeda to shake up the solar system.


Assuming Earth is still here in 4 billion years its skies will be spangled with the glowing shards of an epic cosmic collision. The Milky Way galaxy and its nearest neighbor, the enormous Andromeda galaxy, will plow right into one another (photo illustration, above, shows a view of Earth's night sky during an early stage of the predicted galactic smashup). Earth's solar system will be punted from its perch in the Milky Way's Orion spin. drift for a while and probably end up orbiting much farther from the new galactic core, scientists from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and colleagues reported in May (SN: 7/14/12. p. 10). Using the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the movement of stars in Andromeda, the team determined that the galaxy is beading straight for the Milky Way--at nearly 400,000 kilometers per hour. Though the galaxies are still 2.5 million light-years apart, gravitational attraction is pulling them together. The researchers speculate that another nearby galaxy--M33, the Triangulum--may get dragged into the pileup. Either way, the merger should be a spectacular sight for cosmic rubberneckers.


Please note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.

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Title Annotation:2012: SCIENCE NEWS TOP 25
Author:Drake, Nadia
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 29, 2012
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