What threatens the Milky Way inevitable collision with the Andromeda galaxy

Until recently, scientists believed that it was our galaxy that would suffer the most from the collision, because it was smaller than its neighbor. Now there is no such certainty: new studies by the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research show that Andromeda is actually not much harder. In fact, the two galaxies are roughly the same size. This is claimed by a study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society .

Estimating even the approximate mass of the galaxy is very difficult. The brightly glowing stars that make up the visible part of this huge system actually make a very small contribution to the total mass of the galaxy. Most are black holes and dark matter, which are difficult to measure even with ultra-modern telescopes. To circumvent this factor, ICRAR scientists used a relatively new method for calculating the mass of Andromeda.

Using the analysis data of very fast stars in the Andromeda galaxy, discovered by the William Herschel telescope, the researchers could calculate the speed of the galaxy's departure. The departure speed in this case shows how fast the object must move in order to completely leave the orbit of the galaxy. By working in the opposite direction from this number, the researchers could calculate the mass of Andromeda. They found that, compared with previous estimates, the mass of the galaxy is about the same as the mass of the Milky Way, that is, about 800 billion times the mass of the Sun. Given this, in the distant future, our galaxy may be much more lucky - perhaps in the course of a catastrophic collision, two space systems will merge together.

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