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Milky Way to collide with neighboring galaxy in 4 billion years: NASA

(Xinhua)

09:50, June 04, 2012

This illustration released by NASA depicts a view of the night sky just before the predicted merger between our Milky Way galaxy, left, and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. About 3.75 billion years from now, Andromeda's disk fills the field of view and its gravity begins to create tidal distortions in the Milky Way. The view is inspired by dynamical computer modeling of the future collision between the two galaxies. The two galaxies collide about 4 billion years from now and merge to form a single galaxy about 6 billion years from now. (Source: chinanews.com)

WASHINGTON, May 31 (Xinhua) -- The Milky Way is expected to collide with neighboring Andromeda galaxy in 4 billion years, the U.S. space agency NASA said Thursday in a statement.

Years of "extraordinarily precise observations" by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope tracking the motion of the Andromeda galaxy "remove any doubt that it is destined to collide and merge with the Milky Way," NASA said. "It will take four billion years before the strike."

Computer simulations derived from Hubble's data show that it will take an additional 2 billion years after the encounter for the interacting galaxies to completely merge and reshape into a single elliptical galaxy similar to the ones commonly seen in the universe.


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