Galaxy collision are crucial to the story of space. A meteor can occasionally crash through Earth’s atmosphere and into a doghouse. Stars do fiercely collide with one another occasionally. On sometimes, two brilliant spiral galaxies will collide.
A stunning image of the galaxy collision of NGC 4568 and NGC 4567 was just acquired by Hawaii’s Gemini North telescope, which is perched atop the massive volcano Mauna Kea. The spiralling objects are roughly 20,000 light-years distant, but in the image, they are still relatively unaffected as they get closer to one another.
This new image captured by the Gemini North telescope in Hawai‘i, part of the @GeminiObs, operated by @NSF's @NOIRLabastro, reveals a pair of interacting spiral #galaxies — NGC 4568 and NGC 4567 — as they begin to clash and merge. https://t.co/MwpKMQHqFn (1/2) pic.twitter.com/N45JoouzXJ
— NOIRLab (@NOIRLabAstro) August 9, 2022
What happens next?
The two galaxies will join over the course of millions of years. In fact, we know this merger has already started because it took the light from these far-off galaxies around 60 million years to reach us. However, as seen from Earth, their enormous gravitational pull would cause the galaxies to warp and produce an abundance of new stars, according to NOIRLab. The mixing procedure will take 500 million years to complete. In-depth galactic scans and computer simulations predict that the final result will be a single “elliptical galaxy,” which may be spherical or may resemble a squashed sphere more.
In the cosmos, such mergers of brilliant spiral galaxies are typical. Indeed, that will also happen to us.
The Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way’s closest massive neighbor, and this galaxy collision are expected to occur in around 5 billion years, according to NOIRLab.
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