That Andromeda and the Milky Way have a common future is nothing new. With our neighboring galaxy approaching ours at a speed of approximately 300 kilometers per second, it is predicted that both will end up colliding and generating a larger galaxy, in an event that they have even dubbed Lactomeda. You should not worry, of course, about the possible effects that this may have on your life (not even on that of your great-great-grandchildren), since it is estimated that this event will occur in about 5,860 million years. I think that neither Jordi Hurtado looks so long term.
This does not mean, however, that there is no news related to the closer relations between Andromeda and the Milky Way, quite the contrary, and according to The Next Web, recent observations made by Hubble have shown that the two galaxies have already made contact. To be more exact, it is the gaseous halo that surrounds Andromeda that is already in contact with the Milky Way, and thanks to the veteran telescope, NASA scientists have been able to map that huge accumulation of gas that surrounds the galaxy.
The mapping of the Andromeda halo, which has been carried out in the context of the AMIGA project (Absorption Map of Ionized Gas in Andromeda), has revealed that This gaseous covering, whose outer part is already in contact with our galaxy, is made up of two layers. An outer one, which we could qualify as calmer and lighter, as opposed to the inner layer, more complex and dynamic than initially estimated, prior to the information provided by Hubble. A complexity that, most likely, is due to the incidence of supernovae found in the Andromeda disk.
With the mapping completed, scientists have been able to determine that Andromeda’s halo spans 1.3 million light years, a figure that goes up to two million light years in relation to certain directions. And it was by checking this, its extension, as well as the properties of the outer layer, when it has been determined that it is already in contact with the outermost part of the Milky Way.
“Understanding the huge gas halos that surround galaxies is extremely important,” says study co-author Samantha Berek, “These gas deposits contain the fuel necessary for the formation of future stars within galaxies. They are full of clues about the past and future evolution of galaxies, and we will finally be able to study one in great detail in our closest galactic neighbor. “
The merger of both galaxies has therefore begun. We already indicated it at the beginning, it is not a process whose end we will be able to live (5,860 million years, remember), but it is fascinating, especially for the scientific community, be able to observe the first steps of a collision of two galaxies. It is not something that happens for the first time, but until now all cases were so remote that it was hardly possible to investigate them. Since now, with the Andromeda halo touching the Milky Way, that has completely changed.
World news – CA – Hi-Tech : Andromeda and the Milky Way come into contact