Bad Trip

Galactic Collision Could Fling Our Solar System Into Intergalactic Space

The collision "could knock us out of the Milky Way."

1. 4. 19 by Jon Christian
 NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI
Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

Galactic Collision

An upcoming galactic collision is likely to wake the black hole at the center of the Milky Way and turn our home galaxy into a quasar — it could even fling our solar system into intergalactic space, according to new research.

“This phenomenon will generate powerful jets of high energy radiation emanating from just outside the black hole,” lead author Marius Cautun, a researcher at Durham University, said in a press release. “While this will not affect our Solar System, there is a small chance that we might not escape unscathed from the collision between the two galaxies which could knock us out of the Milky Way and into interstellar space.”

Black Hole Sun

Astronomers long thought that the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy that slid into the Milky Way’s vicinity about 1.5 billion years ago, would settle into an orbit around our galaxy.

But according to the new paper, which was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Large Magellanic Cloud has far more dark matter than previously believed. That means it has much greater mass and is more likely to slam into our galaxy than orbit it.

Advertisement

The epic collision will likely awaken the dormant black hole at the center of the Milky Way, causing it to gobble nearby matter and swell as much as 10 times in size.

Widening Gyre

The good news is that the galactic collision won’t take place for two billion years — long after anyone currently living on Earth is gone.

But while we’ll escape unscathed, the same can’t be said about our galaxy.

“While two billion years is an extremely long time compared to a human lifetime, it is a very short time on cosmic timescales,” Cautun said. “The destruction of the Large Magellanic Cloud, as it is devoured by the Milky Way, will wreak havoc with our galaxy,” turning it “into an ‘active galactic nucleus’ or quasar.”

Advertisement


As a Futurism reader, we invite you join the Singularity Global Community, our parent company’s forum to discuss futuristic science & technology with like-minded people from all over the world. It’s free to join, sign up now!

Share This Article

Keep up.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter to keep in touch with the subjects shaping our future.
I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement and Privacy Policy

Advertisement

Copyright ©, Singularity Education Group All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.