Skip to comments.AAS Meeting: Milky Way on Collision Course With Andromeda Galaxy
Posted on 01/07/2009 5:24:25 AM PST by Red Badger
Since Aristotles first theory on the Milky Way to present times, theres still so much astronomers need to learn about the galaxy our Solar System lies in. Over the course of time, the observations made on the Milky Way itself seemed harder to do than on any other galaxy, simply because they had to be made from within the galaxy, offering very little perspective.
That is why the latest findings by scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics should come as no surprise. As it appears, not only were we wrong about the speed and weight of our Galaxy, but the likelihood of a collision with a nearby galaxy is also bigger than ever.
Astronomers have predicted that a collision between the Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way is bound to take place. The result of that would be the formation of a new, larger galaxy..
Andromeda is a spiral galaxy of a similar size to ours, and is believed to have collided with at least one other galaxy in the past, according to specialists. Despite predictions, we shouldnt worry though, since astronomers predicted the collision will take place in three to four billion years time. The European Space Agency will send the Gaia mission in late 2011 to investigate our galaxy.
Measurements have shown that Andromeda is approaching the Milky Way at almost 140 kilometers per second. The most recent study by astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggested that our Galaxy is actually rotating 100,000 miles per hour faster than thought, which means a significant increase in mass, but also a greater gravitational pull that increases the likelihood of a collision with Andromeda or other smaller nearby galaxies.
Before the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) measurements made by scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Milky Way was believed to be smaller than Andromeda. However, by studying the areas of star formation in our Galaxy at times when the Earth was at opposite sides of its orbit around the Sun, they were able to obtain the slight apparent shift of the objects position against the background of more distant objects.
Karl Menten of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, a member of the team of astronomers involved in the study, said the new measurements revise their understanding of the structure and motions of the Galaxy.
These VLBA observations produce highly-accurate direct measurements of distances and motions, and astronomers found direct distance measurements to differ from earlier, indirect measurements sometimes by a factor of two.
The VLBA is a system of 10 radio-telescope antennas that stretch from Hawaii to New England and the Caribbean, and has the ability to provide the most accurate observations to date. The system is even able to produce images hundreds of times more detailed than the Hubble Space Telescope.
Image Credit: NASA
WE'RE DOOOOMED!!!!!!!OBAMA, SAVE US!!!!!!!!!
Do they need a bail out?
Didn’t we already know we were on a collision course with Andromeda?
Women and Minorities hardest hit.
There were threads recently that speculated Earth really wasn’t a member of the milky way galaxy put instead part of a smaller galaxy that was in the process of colliding with the milky way. Anyone remember that?
No, Somebody at NASA did............
Minus some refined parameters, we’ve known of this for a long time.
Damn megagalaxies. Taking over all the ma and pa galaxies.
We may need to bail out!.............
Memo: Scratch plans to vacation in Andromeda.
3or4 billion years......but, still.
“...our Galaxy is actually rotating 100,000 miles per hour faster than thought...”
My dizzy spells are explanded at last!
Well, the Andromedans do have hot women.
Of course, I should have known. Maybe Hansen has new marching orders from Algore.
"You'd better come up with something I can use to scare them with!"
Yes, and the article says so.
The prior thinking was that the collision would be a sideswipe whereas a more massive Milky Way galaxy would result in a more direct collision.
From “Globull Warming” to “Galactic Collision”..........Hey, this’ll work for 3 billion years!..........
Captains log, stardate 4,000,000,000,034. Haulin’ ass out of the Milky Way.
Everyone crash positions!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.