Milky Way and Andromeda to collide… in 4 billion years

Keep your specs on and stock up on water and canned goods, because the Milky Way, that thing we've been blasting with a laser, is going to collide with the Andromeda galaxy. Well, in about 4 billion years, but it's never too late to be prepared.

Astronomers working on the Hubble Space Telescope said the galaxies, located 2.5 million light-years from each other, will collide in 4 billion years.

"Because Andromeda is getting closer to us, astronomers have speculated for a long time whether it might collide with our Milky Way and whether the galaxies might merge together," said Roeland van der Marel, an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. "However, to know if this will in fact happen, it's necessary to know not only how Andromeda is moving in our direction, but also what its sideways motion is. Because that will determine whether Andromeda will miss us at a distance -- or whether it might be heading straight for us."

Now, scientists know that Andromeda is on a crash-course with us, headed at about 250,000 mph. It probably wouldn't directly impact the Earth, relatively speaking, but it would push the sun farther from the center (which could obviously have indirect catastrophic results for us).

Luckily for us, we'll all be long gone by then!

Via LA Times

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