back to article Milky Way DOOMED to high-speed smash with Andromeda galaxy

Observations from the Hubble telescope have shown that the Milky Way is on a high-speed collision course with the nearby Andromeda galaxy and the two will merge into a new elliptical system. Andromeda, also called M31, is about the same mass as the Earth's Milky Way and similar in form. Although it's 2.5 million light years …


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  1. Chris Miller

    The simulations look impressive

    Where do I book my seat?

    1. ZankerH

      Re: The simulations look impressive

      1. Chris Miller


        I prefer Aubrey de Grey - both roughly equally unlikely to work.

    2. Darryl

      Re: The simulations look impressive

      "If you've done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe."

      1. RAMChYLD

        Re: The simulations look impressive

        Speaking of which, if The Milky Way is moving out of the way, why would the Vogons want to destroy earth? Surely they'd go after Uranus or Venus instead?

        1. Allan George Dyer

          Re: The simulations look impressive

          "why would the Vogons want to destroy earth?"

          Because the plans have all be passed, and all the forms completed, buried in peat etc. Can't change it now, its Orders, more than my job's worth...

          The one with the poetry book in the pocket.

        2. Elmer Phud

          Re: Vogons

          Plan is plans

          You don't become interstellar highway engineers by thinking for yourself.

          If it says here that Earth's got to go then that's it.

          Demolish it before the squatters move in.

          1. PeterM42

            Re: Vogons

            The squatters HAVE already moved in. - Have you been to the UK recently?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh it's the end of the world as we know it.......

      Chances are the human race will be extinct by then anyway.

      1. jason 7

        Dunno why you got downvoted there.

        Because even if there is still intelligent life left on Earth even in a billion years time, it wont be Homo Sapiens.

        I'm always amazed when folks say "oh I wonder what the world will be like for humans in a million years time?"

        Kind of dusty and museum like I reckon!

        Humans will inherit the stars? Utter Cobblers!

        Maybe a few Creationists around with their heads in the sand downvoting?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dunno why you got downvoted there.

          Which is doubly funny since most creationists don't count on humanity (or the world) being here much beyond the second comming (or was it the third?) which is supposedly real soon now.

          Just the intellectually stunted types that can't imagine the universe being able to go on without them (or their descendents) in it.

    4. zaax

      Re: The simulations look impressive

      You've already got one, right at the front. We're all doomed Captain Mainwaring

  2. Eguro

    I'm so confused

    Isn't there something about the notion that the universe is still expanding having been confirmed by observations of galaxies moving away from us - something like dots on a balloon expanding and therefore the dots getting further and further away from each other - at the speed at which the universe is expanding.

    Then how do the galaxies collide? Is it like dots on an expanding balloon, all moving on the surface as well? And if so, how the heck did we get the above mentioned proof of the universe still expanding?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm so confused

      Galaxies are moving away from each other, though often in groups. Our group is called the Local Group, since it's a local group for local galaxies. Within a group, galaxies can collide. Galaxies in different groups won't, since the groups are moving away from each other.

      1. Local Group

        "Our group is called the Local Group, since it's a local group for local galaxies.

        As contrasted to Local Group, the author of dull and illiterate comments at this very forum.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge

          Re: "Our group is called the Local Group, since it's a local group for local galaxies.

          > a local group for local galaxies.

          Sounds like some kind of weird political slogan.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "... a local group for local galaxies.

            " some kind of weird political slogan"

            Was thinking it sounded more like a pitch for an online dating website.

            1. mhenriday

              Nah, that would have been

              «a local grope for local galaxies»....


      2. Tom 7

        Re: I'm so confused

        "Local Group" - its no wonder we've not been visited by aliens when we persist in such parochial terminology!

        1. Local Group

          ""Local Group" - its no wonder we've not been visited by aliens.

          We should have just called it "The Band". The aliens would have come for that.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Galaxies in clusters

      Milky way, Andromeda and about 50 small satellite galaxies make up the local group. These are all so close together that their gravitational fields affect each other. The local group is part of a cluster of groups of galaxies. There are many clusters of groups. Galaxies inside a group orbit the centre of mass of the group. The distance between clusters increases with the expansion of the universe.

      Take a look at the diagram at the end of:

      1. Eguro
        Thumb Up

        Re: Galaxies in clusters

        Thanks for the replies. I knew I could count on the comment section to enlighten me :)

        1. frank ly

          Re: Galaxies in clusters

          Space is big. If you think that going to the shops in Andromeda is a very long way, then you simply don't appreciate how big space really is.

    3. rakdver

      Re: I'm so confused

      Yes, in addition to the space itself expanding, the galaxies move within it. Andromeda galaxy is too close to us for the expansion of space to matter too much (it contributes about 70km/s to its speed). The proof of expansion comes from observations of galaxies that are about 1000x times as far, and thus the expansion of space affects their distance from us about 1000x as much.

    4. Stoneshop

      Re: I'm so confused

      I'm not an astronomer, so the following is probably not at all what happens out there in the universe:

      imagine a fireworks rocket. It goes up, and explodes into several sparkly bits. These (ignoring gravity and air resistance) fly out from the original explosion point, and would never meet as long as their trajectories don't fold back. But those sparkly bits tend to explode too, throwing stuff out radially from *that* point, and those sparkly remnants may now well be on a collision course with another sparkly bit, or the remnants of its explosion.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: I'm so confused

        > imagine a fireworks rocket.

        Geometrically more correct is the expanding balloon with bits on it can move around and attract each other. Some will collide, some won't get the chance. Also, as the balloon is expanding more and more quickly and lightspeed is max speed, every bit will at some point in time be a lonely spec of solitude on an outrushing surface.

        Penrose had some idea that if you magically get rid of the rest mass of the lonely wandering particles, a simple conformal geometrical transformation shows that a very-far-future, very-large, very-empty, very-much-nothing-happening-anymore universe actually looks like a very-small, very-dense, very-young, very-active universe. Like a russian doll. But this still needs some work.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Penrose had some idea"

          Penrose has no effin idea whatsoever.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Jaybus

          Re: I'm so confused

          "Geometrically more correct is the expanding balloon"

          It seems to me that the geometry of space is completely unknown. We're not even quite sure just how many spatial dimensions there are.

    5. Elmer Phud

      Re: Eric Idle

      The Galaxy Song explains it all

      (about time it was in the national curriculum)

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Paul 75

    Milky Way

    The galaxy you can eat between meals without ruining your appetite.

  5. AndrueC Silver badge

    > The night sky will certainly be different

    What? You mean there'll no longer be a diffuse orange glow all but obscuring a handful of points of light?

    That's a sad joke icon by the way.

  6. Uncle Siggy

    We need to name this future galaxy

    I propose a poll for naming the new merged galaxy. Aside from Andromeda Way and Milkymeda, what shall we name it? How about El Regulus or Alpha Vulturus?

    1. Pete the not so great
      Thumb Up

      Re: We need to name this future galaxy

      Mr Wilson

      1. Jaybus

        Re: We need to name this future galaxy

        "Mr. Wilson"

        Why should it be Mr. WIlson? Surely the collision was caused by Dennis (th menace). I say we name it Dennis.

    2. PeterM42

      Re: We need to name this future galaxy

      Simple - it must be a COALITION galaxy - wandering about in the universe, not doing very much and bumping into others whereupon they cause chaos.

    3. CowardlyLion

      Re: We need to name this future galaxy

      Actually, I like "Milkymeda"!

  7. Red Bren

    Have you been in an accident that wasn't you fault?

    Have you been injured by an uninsured galaxy? We can help you get the compensation YOU deserve!!!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Have you been in an accident that wasn't you fault?

      Nah, just clamp it.

    2. ElNumbre

      Re: Have you been in an accident that wasn't you fault?

      I don't fancy filling out the insurance claim form.

      "It came out of nowhere guv".

      Still, I shouldnt' worry, one of our many appointed gods will come out of the heaven's and save us. Or something.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That would be amazing to see. It's also worth noting that it is no reason to suspect the demise of the galaxy or the starts in it. Most of the stars will pass by relatively distant from each other. Depending on how the galaxies collide, they will pass through each other (with relatively little casualties) or merge into one (again with small effects to individual stars).

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      dont bet on it

      colliding galaxies are noticable due to the massive star formation triggered by colliding gas clouds. Many of these stars are large and go supernova. This tends to stuff up the view of the city lights and smog. The chances of being in the kill zone of a supernova are higher than in an undisturbed spiral.

      So the Mayans were only off by 4 billion years ??

  9. fuggedaboutit

    Two things

    One, they're estimating it's 4 billion years away. Considering we've not been on this planet a million years, I won't hold my breath. And, secondly, El Reg, the Caps Lock key is on the left. You may want to oil that puppy. It seem to get stuck a lot when you're writing your headlines.

  10. Christoph

    No problem

    By that time we'll be able to get to the galactic centre and lob stars into the black hole. Fire up a jet along the galactic axis, and make sure it only goes in one direction rather than switching directions as most do. With the reaction from the jet, fly the Milky Way away from the collision.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: No problem

      Do you have a project code for that, yet?

  11. mtp


    In a few billion years those of us in the neo human cluster of the galaxy will be in the "The Windows 20000001 McBreakfast Googleplex" sector.

    Actually I take that back. All current mega corps will be long dead but new ones will have formed.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4 billion years?

    I don't think I can wait that long

    1. Antoinette Lacroix

      Re: 4 billion years?

      No worries.

      I'll stay and tell you what happened when you come back.

  13. andreas koch

    Darn. The Milky Way is going to crash into Andromeda.

    No point buying a new tablet then...

    1. LaeMing


      You just need something to get chocolata smears off gorilla glass.

    2. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

      No point buying a new tablet then...

      Why? Just get a Galaxy Tab.

  14. Pete the not so great

    I'm out that night

    I'll just catch the re-run on Dave.

  15. Mussie (Ed)

    Bring On 2020

    I want my full body conversion so that I can live for ever and see this.....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not worried.

    That Andromeda Galaxy doesn't look all that big. I think we can 'ave it.

  17. jubtastic1

    The chances of our sun colliding with another star are vanishingly small

    And yet I can't help but notice that the crash shots appear to show a night sky as directed by Michael Bay.

    Also, four billion years, that's some perspective, makes you think eh? all this rushing around, squabbling for money... have you considered becoming an organ donor? Can I have your liver?

    1. pixl97

      Re: The chances of our sun colliding with another star are vanishingly small

      The stars are very very very unlikely to hit each other, but the bright 'blasts' you are seeing are star formation areas caused by interstellar gas masses crashing into each other. And yes looking deep in to space and looking at crashing galaxies does look like this (at least when you look at the entire iR, vis, x-ray spectrum).

      1. Stoneshop

        Re: The chances of our sun colliding with another star are vanishingly small

        And yes looking deep in to space and looking at crashing galaxies

        Ah, the ultimate disaster gawker.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Ringworld's Children, anyone?

    Not exactly the cause, but in 4 billion years, we should be able to do it.

  19. ~mico

    If in 4 billion years

    We haven't died out as a species, haven't transferred into virtual reality or haven't become beings of pure energy, it will be a nice show.

    I'll take my Vorlon encounter - suit please.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    pretty pictures

    What can I say, I'll be dead before this happens and as such I find myself looking at the pictures and going pretty.

    All we need now is for somebody to find oil in this incomming galaxy and all will be solved.

  21. Local Group

    Blue Shift Keep Away From Our Door

    It's almost as comforting to think that the world's economy will expand forever as it is to think that the Universe already has.

    But Lord, can you find it in your purview to expand forever our supply of crude oil and lead us not into the temptation of the bitumen kind.

  22. Huntsman

    Won't somebody think of the black holes

    Can someone please enlighten me as to what will occur when the galaxies merge, and the two black holes at the centre of each collide?

    Can a black hole eat another? If so, where does it go?

    1. Bluewhelk

      Re: Won't somebody think of the black holes

      The two black holes will eventually merge and you'll have one rather more massive black hole. If Triangulum also joins the party then its black hole may well get ejected at great speed as it will be the smaller of the three and three body systems are unstable.

      Theoretically when two black holes merge you get lots of gravitational waves which scientists have been trying to detect (unsuccessfully so far), a close merger on this scale would be a good test for the instruments.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Has Bruce Willis been informed?

    I know all he does is mining asteroids, but it wouldn't hurt to sent the crew towards Andromeda to see what they can do, no?

  24. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    What, a whole page of comments and ...

    Not one person wonders how long it will take before we start getting told that this will be caused by our activities, and we need new taxes to stop it happening !

    1. Christoph

      Re: What, a whole page of comments and ...

      No, it's caused by paedophiles / terrorists / bogeyman of the week.

  25. Winkypop Silver badge

    Space billiards!

    On a time scale that would blow our tiny humanoid minds!

    "Andromeda, off the Milky Way and into the next massive black hole"

  26. thomas k.

    re: Local Groups

    So, it's more like a Windows Workgroup than an Active Domain?

  27. Francis Boyle

    "Earth's Milky Way"

    I didn't realise preparations for the Galactic Empire were so far advanced.

  28. OnlyTheTony

    Does this mean..

    ..that we'll lose our galactic no claims bonus?

  29. Alan Brown Silver badge


    .... several billion years before Andromeda arrives.

  30. Stoneshop

    How many

    Bulgarian Airbags will we need to deflect this collision?

  31. FlyingPhil

    They're on their way, everyone

    And I guess there is no stopping them coming. So, let it be recorded that I, for one, welcome our new Andromedaian Overlords.

  32. TeeCee Gold badge

    "...the Triangulum Galaxy, aka M33, may also join the cosmic pile-up..."

    Well that's just bloody typical!

    You wait four billion years for a galactic collision..........

    1. Local Group

      Ain't it the truth

      Everybody's got to get in on the act.

      AC'll probably put on his Captain Galaxy uniform and try to direct all of them into a cosmic roundabout.

  33. TeeCee Gold badge

    Got to share!

    I've just seen the Toadygraph's take on this: "Milky Way to collide with foreign galaxy.".

    Funny how it's always those pesky foreigners who are responsible for anything nasty happening. If only Andromeda were an English galaxy, we'd have no problems in four billion years then.

  34. Stevie


    Aiee etc.

  35. Stevie


    "The Sun would be slightly hotter, too hot for life as we know it here on Earth"

    Gordon Bennet! Why were we not warned of this Solar Warming threat, and what can we turn off to prevent it?

  36. OrsonX
    Paris Hilton


    I thought that all the galaxies in the Universe were moving away from one another, with the speed being proportional to their distance appart (Hubble's Law?).

    So, what's going on here please?!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Crusader

      Re: Question?

      Well as History will tell U its only a theory , and some what weak ,as what they see is a bit like an internal reflection, ie like looking in the( rear veiw) mirror as U tavell forward

      Well that's my theory.

  37. MrZoolook

    What name will be given to this new super galaxy... iNebula..?

  38. Crusader

    Which Way is it really all going?

    If these 2 Galaxies are to collide, are they going the way driven by the supposed Big Bang ?

    If not then Are they in an Universe Eddy somewhere relative to ...What?

    Any thoughts out there , even from Andromeda will be accepatale.

  39. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    The Real Project GAGA

    Too bad the GAGA acronym was hastily wasted on some gardening tool. The SP- Bureau could have done a project called "Great! Andromeda Galaxy APPROACHING!" and sent some observation equipment over there before it struck.

    On the other hand.... at least our lawns will look tidy when the Andromedans arrive. We won't have to worry about keeping up with the Triangulum-Jones'.

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