Until now it was thought that the galaxy that would hit the Milky Way would be the Andromeda Galaxy . This fact is estimated to occur within 8,000 million years. But in a recent study conducted by astrophysicists at the University of Durham, it has been discovered that the Large Magellanic Cloud will collide our galaxy before.
The Milky Way is surrounded by several satellite galaxies that orbit around it just like the planets orbit around the sun.
Usually these satellite galaxies have almost no-activity and orbit around their “mother” galaxies for millions of years. But sometimes they experiment changes on its orbit due to the loss of energy. And they end up colliding with their host galaxies, being devoured by them in the process.
The Large Magellanic Cloud
The Large Magellanic Cloud orbits around the Milky Way for about 1,500 million years. And it is the brightest satellite galaxy we have and visible from the earth. It is located 163,000 lightyears from the Milky Way and is considered a dwarf galaxy. Its name is due to the explorer Fernando de Magallanes. Who discovered it in one of his trips in 1519.
Until now, it was thought that it would orbit our galaxy for many millions of years. It was even believed that it could escape the gravitational force of the Milky Way due to the speed with which it moves. But the study has revealed that the Large Magellanic Cloud has much more dark matter than previously thought. Creating a lose of energy quickly and increasing the probability to collide with our galaxy in 90%, according to the simulation of galaxy formation EAGLE .
This collision is feared to awaken the supermassive black hole that inhabits our galaxy, Sagittarius A * . That could have catastrophic consequences since it could turn our galaxy into an active galactic quasar.
Supergiant black hole Sagittarius A *
This black hole would begin to devour all the surrounding gas, so it could increase its size up to 10 times. This causes the star halo of our galaxy to become 5 times more massive. And producing the gravitational ejection of the stars of the central disc of the halo.
Therefore, this collision would cause the black hole to release high energy radiation. Producing an “impressive specimen of cosmic fireworks” , which will be really brilliant.
In the same study they warn of the possibility that the collision between the Great Magellanic Cloud and the Milky Way could send our Solar System out of our galaxy, into the deep space.
Thank God this will not happen while we are alive