It seems that the lifespan of the Milky Way may come earlier than it was first expected.
A new paper notes that the Milky Way seems to be on a crash-course trajectory that could lead to a clash with the Large Magellanic Cloud.
We will be quite safe for a long period of time since researchers estimate that the event could begin in two billion years, which effectively halves the estimated life expectancy of the Milky Way. The previous doomsday prediction anticipated a cataclysmic impact with the Andromeda Galaxy in approximately 5 billion years.
The Large Magellanic Cloud carries one-twentieth of the solar mass possessed by our galaxy but a potential impact would generate permanent damage that could active sleeping black holes that can release lethal radiation. Our galaxy will win the conflict and consume the Large Magellanic Cloud and the consequences will be huge.
A galactic battle
Galactic clashes are not that rare but researchers have learned how to model and anticipate such phenomena. The paper was elaborated by a team of researchers from the University of Durham. In order to create the simulation they used a custom-made collision simulation that requires a supercomputer in order to work properly.
What would happen?
At first the contact will release a generous amount of fresh gas and stars directly in the middle of the giant dark hole that can be found in the center of the Milky Way. Once the hole awakens it will expand up to eight times in size and it may become a quasar, a remarkable celestial object that appears when a supermassive black hole consumes and releases celestial matter at an accelerated rate.
Most of the stars that can be currently found in the Milky Way would be replaced with new stars created by the black hole. It is likely that fresh stars will be pushed towards the corners of the galaxy, careening at millions of miles per hour though the empty void.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca