Earth’s Sky Will Look Mindblowingly Crazy 3.75 Billion Years From Now

Check out this video made with images created by NASA. It shows Earth's night sky during the next four billion years, with the Milky Way on a head-on collision with Andromeda. The destruction of our galaxy as we know it will be so beautiful.

Advertisement

We knew that Andromeda and the Milky Way were going to collide, but scientists thought it may only going to be a timid encounter, brushing by one another. According to Sangmo Tony Sohn—of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore—"after nearly a century of speculation about the future destiny of Andromeda and our Milky Way, we at last have a clear picture of how events will unfold over the coming billions of years."

Thanks to new data from the Hubble Space Telescope, we now know for sure that it will be a "titanic head-on collision" that will create a completely new galaxy. The new computer simulations show that the galactic crash will happen four billion years from now. STScI's Roeland van der Marel says that their "findings are statistically consistent with a head-on collision between the Andromeda galaxy and our Milky Way galaxy."

How would it happen?

In this scenario, we are the baseball batter and Andromeda is the baseball, approaching two thousand times faster than the Milky Way's speed. When it happens, it will be a total "smash-up" according to NASA. Star systems will lose their bearings, changing orbits all around. Our own solar system will "probably be tossed much farther from the galactic core than it is today."

But there's nothing to fear: the stars within the Milky Way and Andromeda are so far apart between each other than the possibility of them colliding is almost nil. [Hubble via NASA]

Expand the video to see a simulation of how the collision is going to be.

DISCUSSION

swingerofbirches
swingerofbirches

I'm a really nutty person, and I record a lot of my thoughts and sort of save everything, basically the digital version of a packrat. I don't have physical clutter, but I have hard drives filled with journals, thoughts, musings, etc. It's pretty OCD actually, this need to record thoughts, but it's an OCD I enjoy. Well anyhow, I am terrified of losing these thoughts. And so I have actually thought out before their long-term preservation after I am gone, thinking out as far as the when our Earth will be absorbed into some blackhole. And it occurs to me that there will not be preservation of recorded history of our planet and our civilization. I get like a shiver from my brain down my body when I consider all of our history, including my own, permanently gone forever. I like to think that if all of humanity dies out, evidence of us could be discovered by some other species billions of years from now. I know this sounds really stupid, but for some reason the show Lost just came into my head and I thought: that was a pretty beautiful show. And it's one very very tiny piece of our society. But imagine a Universe where billions of years from now there was no preservation of the TV show Lost. That whole world that was created is jut nonexistent. I know that sounds really weird, but for some reason picking that example gives me that same existential shock. I guess it's easier to think of one thing disappearing than everything.

So I've had this idea that we as humans should be jettisoning recorded information about our society in the form of pictures, video, text, all the formats we can think of in direction of the Universe. I think it's important that we start sending rocket ships with information about us for posterity as far as possible, outside of our galaxy as soon as possible so that we can leaves clues about our existence. And I'd sure like a chance to put a few hard drives of mine on board so that I can have the inkling that there is a slight, slight possibility some species billions and trillions of years from now could remember me. Maybe infinitely. It's nice just to think it's possible. OK I need to stop thinking about this now. Does anyone else get these weird shock like feelings in their head when they think about weird existential stuff? Like, if you imagine there being no Universe. I get this seizure like feeling.

Yes, I know I am nutty.