Life On Earth Threatened By An Upcoming Collision Between Milky Way And Large Magellanic Cloud

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A dwarf galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, approaches the Milky Way, and the collision between Milky Way and Large Magellanic Cloud would bring the end to life on Earth. Another consequence of this catastrophic impact would be that this collision might activate the supermassive a black hole at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is doomed to collide with the Milky Way, and the product of that collision could awaken the Sagittarius A, a currently inactive supermassive black hole, which is at the center of our galaxy. The impact could send our Solar System into the interstellar space, as reported by a study’s report written by the scientists from the University of Durham, in the United Kingdom.

The Milky Way is surrounded by a group of smaller satellite galaxies orbiting around it, such as the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is about 163,000 light years away. Dwarf galaxies sometimes collide and are absorbed by their host. Scientists have believed that the Large Magellanic Cloud would orbit the Milky Way for many billions of years, but recent measurements indicate that this satellite dwarf galaxy has almost twice as much dark matter as previously thought.

Life On Earth Threatened By An Upcoming Collision Between Milky Way And Large Magellanic Cloud

Because it has more mass than expected, the Large Magellanic Cloud is rapidly losing energy, so astrophysicists predict that it will collide with our galaxy in about 2 billion years from now, long before the projected impact between the Milky Way and Andromeda that would occur 8 billion years from now.

While 2 billion years is an extremely long time, it is “very short” on cosmic timescales. According to Marius Cautun, the lead author of the new study, the collision of the Large Magellanic Cloud with the Milky Way, in addition to waking up the supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A, would turn our galaxy into an “active galactic nucleus or quasar,” an astronomical source of electromagnetic energy that would end the life on Earth.

“This phenomenon will generate powerful jets of high-energy radiation emanating from the outside of the black hole,” says Cautun. After the black hole has awakened, it would begin to devour the surrounding gas and increase in size up to tenfold, pushing the solar system out of the Milky Way.


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