Man, I’ve been overly negative when it comes to my titles, haven’t I? Well too bad! On a long enough time line everything dies, including yourself, the Earth, the Sun and the Galaxy, and eventually, the Universe!
So, just how will you die? Sure there’s the apps on the app store that take into effect the likelihood of the average death based on your location, smoking habits (if any) and diet. There’s professional diagnosis based on doctors, and genetic lottery, but lets say you were immortal to aging and accidental death. Just what is likely to kill you? Well, there’s the possibility of Earth being struck by a meteor and all life dying, but you’re immortal so you’ll survive that scenario if it happens. Many believe that in 4.5 billion years the Sun will expand and nebulize (a word I just made up, meaning it will turn into a nebula). What many don’t realize is, that is wrong! The sun will not supernova, it will not nova, and it will not nebulize destroying all life on Earth because something big is going to happen before that. In case you’re unfamiliar with this hypothesis, it goes as follows. As the Sun slowly runs out of fuel it throws off its outer layers, it will leave behind a dense, hot core that will cool off over the next few billion years. Earth would be sucked up into this mess of expanding and shedding of layers, destroying all life on Earth, evaporating our oceans and destroying our planet completely. Five million degrees Celsius sun burns are hard to heal from after all.
So what IS going to happen Jeff?
Long before our firey best friend goes all menopause-y on us, in about 4 billion years, our closest galactic neighbor is going to come knocking on our door and then barge in like Uncle Eddie coming to visit the Griswolds. Andromeda is a galaxy roughly 2.5 million light years away from us, and is coming to visit with or without our permission at 400,000km/h. Traveling that fast, in 4 billion years, roughly 500 million years before our Sun goes boom, this jerk will come and throw Lego bricks all over our floor, but we’re lucky.. sort of..
While it’s speculated that the Solar System and it’s planets and other materials are likely to survive this merger, and the Milky Way galaxy (that’s our galaxy) is likely to survive this eventual slow merger, our Sun is not likely to join us on our journey. It is likely to be thrown out somewhere else in our galaxy, which is now over twice as big as it once was. The two galaxies will merge together forming one massive, elliptical galaxy. Our solar system will likely be thrown farther away from the galactic core/center then it currently is, and we are not likely to settle in with a new star.
There’s another galaxy currently farther away than Andromeda that is speculated to also merge into us, in some scenarios before Andromeda, but it won’t change the above information. What is it going to look like from our planet, for you, our immortal friend? NASA went ahead and did a sweet picture for you!
What about AFTER the collision? When the two Galaxies go on a rebound and start coming back towards one another?
And finally, after everything has settled down and the two galaxies have merged together..
Image credit: Hubblesite.org