Hubble’s dazzling display of 2 colliding galaxies

195068_web

Located in the constellation of Hercules, about 230 million light-years away, NGC 6052 is a pair of colliding galaxies. Credit ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Adamo et al.

Located in the constellation of Hercules, about 230 million light-years away, NGC 6052 is a pair of colliding galaxies. They were first discovered in 1784 by William Herschel and were originally classified as a single irregular galaxy because of their odd shape. However, we now know that NGC 6052 actually consists of two galaxies that are in the process of colliding. This particular image of NGC 6052 was taken using the Wide Field Camera 3 on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

A long time ago gravity drew the two galaxies together into the chaotic state we now observe. Stars from within both of the original galaxies now follow new trajectories caused by the new gravitational effects. However, actual collisions between stars themselves are very rare as stars are very small relative to the distances between them (most of a galaxy is empty space). Eventually the galaxies will fully merge to form a single, stable galaxy.

Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, will undergo a similar collision in the future with our nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy. However, this is not expected to happen for around 4 billion years.

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This object was previously observed by Hubble with its old Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). That image was released in 2015.

Public Release: 8-Mar-2019

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100 thoughts on “Hubble’s dazzling display of 2 colliding galaxies

  1. I wonder if a collision with another galaxy would result in more CO2 in that atmosphere? Or otherwise cause global warming. Something to ask a climate alarmist, if they could see that as the final vindication of their ‘theories’. But I wouldn’t wait for an answer.

    Beautiful picture.

    • EurekAlert! should have consulted with you. As it is they have a press release devoid of alarmist climate change claims. That must violate their contract somehow.

      Regarding the impending collision with Andromeda, 4 billion years from now, the earth will have long since been engulfed by our red giant star, but on the plus side, we’ll only be 30 years away from cheap reliable fusion power by then.

        • Yes, you got me there. I should have specified human-controlled, terrestrial fusion.

          There won’t be any earth surface or humans to control anything inside the plasma of the red giant sun. That may finally put an end to funding of earth-based tokamak projects with no hope of success, but I rather suspect that the human colony on Pluto will still be working on one.

          The hardships of life on Pluto may delay commercialization past 30 years though.

    • You’ve got it all backwards – just like the warmists.

      The collision of the galaxies is BECAUSE OF global warming.

      Fully 97% of scientists agree – they issued a statement:
      “We blame global warming for [fill in the bad thing that happened]!”

    • Wait until the James Webb telescope is launched (supposedly in 2 more years). Its mirror is 3 times the diameter of Hubble’s. It will reside in the earth-sun Lagrange point, and have a sunshield the size of a tennis court.

      • I watched a documentary about it. Fascinating technology even the bits to keep the scope and instruments away from the sun and cool. I would say, given the challenges like getting the thing in a package small enough to be carried by a launcher, a launch 2 years away is optimistic IMO. But I am watching this with eager anticipation.

        • They better get the mirror right this time. They can’t send up the space shuttle to fix it.

          • Even in testing (In earth gravity), the “tennis court” sized “shield” has failed. But you are right, once it’s up there, there is no fixing it.

      • By that time, a Socialist may well be POTUS. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Priorities.

      • I hope it is taking a supersize tube of 50 plus suntan protection cream too, there must be loads of carbon radicals/radiation (or whatever) up there.

  2. Wow!

    Thank you so much.

    I looked at the photo and reflected on how little we know.
    That is a good thought.

    Regards,

  3. The Hubble Telescope is worth every penny we spent on it.

    It keeps on giving!

    I remember the anticipation about getting Hubble into orbit where we would see things we never saw before, and then we got word that the optics had been fashioned improperly making Hubble images blurry and the promise of Hubble seemed to go out the window.

    But NASA came to the rescue and finally got Hubble on track with a space walk to make repairs and we have had beautiful pictures of the universe ever since. Well done!

    • Side story on the Hubble optics. One of my first projects as an environmental consultant was at the facility where the telescope optics were tested in a huge vacuum chamber which simulated space conditions.

    • That tiny bit of conspiracy theorist in me (it is tiny, and a bit sarcastic) always thought the mirror on Hubble was ground perfectly for a mission to do a in depth survey of Soviet Russia. Then the optics package changed the focus for far field space as planned. Just saying.

      • Since I don’t need t change the focus on my own reflector scope to watch either the ISS or a distant planet, I can’t see how a spherical mirror lacking parabolic correction would help see the Earth surface from high Earth orbit.

        There’s enough real conspiracies to keep us busy — you can skip this one…

  4. Asteroids have collided with our planet and caused big craters as a result of their impact. The larger the asteroid, the greater the impact. This collision doesn’t necessarily involve greenhouse gasses. Volcanoes actually emit lots of ash into the atmosphere causing a cooling effect on the temperature and hence climate affected. Greenhouse gasses are also at play in this scenario, but their impact isn’t human activity. Human activity may take us to extinction if these activities are not moderated. This climate change is something we can control at this time (to the extent that we limit CO2 gases. Just as deforestation is a human activity which we are in control of so is climate change and greenhouse gasses.

    • No, Iris. You’re totally wrong about the need to limit CO2.

      All of the CO2 that we are putting back into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning was there originally, millions of years ago. Things were more conducive to life back then. There is absolutely zero chance that we will be driven to extinction by having more arable land growing crops that are made more productive by higher levels of CO2. If any kind of climate change is a serious risk to humanity, it is the risk of the next ice age glaciation that is certain to come, and/or the risk that CO2 levels fall below the level needed to support plant life.

      • @ Rich Davis
        That is the stake that SHOULD keep the CAGW theory dead. But like a zombie, it ignores science and comes back to “life.”

    • Iris: Warmer periods with several times the CO2 in the air than we have today never caused an extinction level event in the past. Why do you think either would this time? OTOH, if temperatures dropped too much, or atmospheric CO2 dropped very much lower, we would unquestionably have an extinction level event.

      If your opinion were correct, hot houses (greenhouses) would not exist. You are 180 degrees out of phase with reality.

    • “Iris Koren March 10, 2019 at 7:10 pm
      Asteroids have collided with our planet and caused big craters as a result of their impact. The larger the asteroid, the greater the impact. This collision doesn’t necessarily involve greenhouse gasses. Volcanoes actually emit lots of ash into the atmosphere causing a cooling effect on the temperature and hence climate affected. Greenhouse gasses are also at play in this scenario, but their impact isn’t human activity. Human activity may take us to extinction if these activities are not moderated. This climate change is something we can control at this time (to the extent that we limit CO2 gases. Just as deforestation is a human activity which we are in control of so is climate change and greenhouse gasses.”

      Just what does this rambling mumblings mean, exactly?
      The thread’s discussion is about the collision of galaxies, not tiny fragments called asteroids.

      Iris then mutters about volcanoes, which has zero bearing on the topic.
      From there Iris jumps into greenhouse gases and actually states “but their impact isn’t human activity”, again zero relation to galactic collisions.

      From there Iris makes a rather bizarre claim about human activity causing human extinction and some weird notions about deforestation and human ability to urinate into the wind and control climate change and greenhouse gases.

      A) Planets and their suns are drastically affected during the collision of galaxies. It is not a joke.

      B) CO₂, at 400 ppm is 0.04% of the atmosphere.

      C) Human CO₂ might, temporarily be 4%-5% of that 0.04% atmospheric CO₂ content. i.e. Roughly 16 ppm to 20 ppm, i.e. 0.016% to 0.02% is human CO₂ emissions in the atmosphere

      D) In tangible terms, 4 out of every 10,000 atmospheric molecules are CO₂. A current claim is that 1800s CO₂ was around 280 ppm, near plant starvation levels. Earth’s current 400 ppm level minus 280 ppm is 120 ppm or an 1.2 CO₂ molecule increase for every ten thousand atmospheric molecules over 140 years.

      E) Humans worldwide running all sorts of fossil fuel consuming contraptions barely helped to raise atmospheric GHG CO₂ 1.2 molecules per ten thousand molecules of atmosphere. Remember, humans are only responsible for 4% – 5% of atmospheric CO₂.
      That mean humans contribute 0.05 pptt (parts per ten thousand) to 0.06 pptt of that 1.2 pptt increase over 140 years.
      From this amount, Iris claims humans will extinguish human life…

      F) Any belief that humans can control climate change or atmospheric GHG or even deforestation is absurd.

      G) Eliminating fossil fuel energy sources also eliminates renewable energy sources as the vast majority of renewable energy equipment requires fossil fuels.

      H) Eliminating fossil fuel energy sources relegates the vast majority of Earth’s populations to other energy sources; i.e. burning biomass for heat, light and cooking.
      Eliminating fossil fuels will deforest all woodlands near human habitations; check pictures of places like Haiti for confirmation.

      I) Deforestation occurs for several reasons. a) conversion to human living space or farmlands,
      b) for harvesting wood,
      c) fires and other minor disasters.
      Both b) & c) options regrow. Quickly. 20 years for young forest, 80 years for old forest.
      If you bother to check NASA’s satellite photographs, you will learn that currently reforestation is greater than deforestation; in spite of what the green guilt ridden human agony publications claim.

      J) Fairyland dreams about the path to utopia are achieved through eliminating fossil fuel contributions towards civilization is the fastest path to dooming vast numbers of humans.
      No heat, no cooling, no lighting, minimal transportation,
      no fertilizer, no cement, no steel, no aluminum,
      no clean water, untreated sewage,
      no air flights or space flights, no satellites,
      no television, no cell phones,
      no synthetic clothes or shoes.

      Iris better start practicing growing her own food and harvesting her own meat.
      Clothing will, once again be home spun and woven fabrics. Ladies sewing will again be a dominant talent and skill. Warm clothing will be dependent upon fur bearing animals.

      Oh yeah, great future,Iris.

      Iris’s rambling guilt ridden blather minimizes discussion about galactic collision with a multitude of certain doom scenarios for Earth. Rambling that especially bizarre when the expressed preference for unicorn solutions mean a much sooner certain disaster for humans.

      At least humans using fossil fuels with future access to massive amounts of solar system hydrocarbons, have a chance of existing when the galaxies begin their collision.

      Implementing Iris’s mumblings as a version of solutions, humans are doomed immediately and therein should lay guilt and angst.
      * Not when waking in an heated/cooled household,
      * or cooking abundant quality foods for meals,
      * or driving to distant employment that better suits a person than close walking distance manual labor,
      * or enjoying broadcast entertainments while surfing websites via computers or phones,
      * or when one eventually sleeps in a soft comfortable hydrocarbon dependent beds near clean excellent bathroom facilities nearby.

      Iris’s utopia means walking to a waterless privy, sleeping on straw or horsehair, coarse homespun clothing, sparse irregular meals, reading by burning precious fats e.g. tallow, at night.

      Good luck with that dream Iris.

      • Actually point “I” is also reversing. As farming methods improve, less land is needed for farming and so developed nations are getting greener. I did read an estimate over 20 years ago that if we could convert the Third World to First world farming techniques, that land alone could feed 35 billion people.

        Heck some crops in Afghanistan more than doubled their yield due to the fresh seeds the Allies brought with them. 50,000 tons of seed in the first couple of months.

        • OMG!!! But that would mean using fossil fuel products, don’t you know? We can’t allow that!!! (/sarc)

    • Iris, you need to set aside that bong for a while, clear your head. Do you a world of good, dearie.

    • If CO2 levels in the 5000 to 7000ppm range didn’t drive life to the edge of extinction, I don’t see how 500ppm is going to do so.

  5. Any astronomers? If the Big Bang blew everything out from a single point and all matter is expanding from that point, how do you explain colliding galaxies? Shouldn’t they be both moving away from a common point?

    (“A long time ago gravity drew the two galaxies together” is not an explanation — )

    • I had the same thought. Maybe it could be a non-uniform expansion and one speeding galaxy rear-ended the slow-moving galaxy with the “Ask me about my grandchildren” bumper sticker?

    • The problem you have Kip is that you are constrained to 3-D thinking when you say: “blew everything out from a single point.”

      The reality of the universe is that no matter which direction you look out at, you are looking at that “single point.”

      The universe as we know it has no single point of origin. Why? Because no matter which direction you look out in today’s universe, all you see is the cosmic background radiation.

      You are stuck in three dimensions and are a victim of your inability to conceive of more than three.

    • Kip,

      How about this. Many cosmologists believe that the acoustics from the big bang indicate an infinite and eternal universe in which case the big bang was a “local” event.

      • @JimG1
        “Believe,” so it is their religion. They have no evidence and never can. There can never be an infinite series of finite objects (days, years, seconds, etc.). Einstein’s relativity theories verified by experiment indicate that 1) space, time, and matter cannot exist independently from each other. and 2) Space, time, and matter came into existence at a point in the past, and there is no ‘before.’ The reason that SOME cosmologists fantasize about an eternal universe is because they don’t want to face the question, “what caused the big bang?” because whatever it was had to be eternal (not time-bound), omnipotent, and personal because it made the decision to do something, and that sounds like a theistic God (either Allah or Yahweh) which they a priori reject.

        Don’t try to tell me that it was natural laws that caused it to happen because natural laws didn’t exist until after the Big Bang. And don’t try the absurdity that Stephen Hawking put out several years before his death that the universe created itself, for which he was roundly criticized by his peers.

        BTW the cause of the beginning of the universe is something outside the realm of empirical science, no theory can be tested, so despite what they claim about being non-religious scientists, they are making a religious statement. Oh, and religions don’t have to have gods, Taoism is an example. And the Supreme Court agreed in the early `60’s

          • Incredibly convenient. The idea of a big bang, with all of the known universe arising from it, being conjured out of nothing is actually more likely to square with the idea of a creator, surely. All the way back to the big bang the chains of cause and effect are unbroken, so why should rational creatures decide arbitrarily, that for some reason the whole concatenation broke down at a single combustive point, when mass and energy were precipitated and combined from nothing!! There is no wording of that little problem that can make sense any longer as far as I’m concerned.

            In my opinion it’s utterly bizarre that we could even allow ourselves to think that way, and believe that all of what we can see came out of nothing. Some day , I believe, a lot more people will laugh at the the very idea.

            But thankfully, we are now moving towards acceptance of the idea of a local big bang in an infinite series of variously scattered big bangs in an infinite universe, on an expansion and collapse basis. It is a scary prospect, no question. Limitless space and mass and energy with no beginning – because it was always there – and no end. The imagination, so accustomed to beginnings and ends, to limits, is seriously challenged by it, and the mind may teeter in a high wire state as it strives to conceive of the almost unimaginable . . . Big Bang theory seems suspiciously anthropocentric to me.

            As for “time”, that’s another tricky concept. Mass and energy certainly exist, and their expression is “action” that is permanently ongoing (including the most fundamental sub-particulate action/pulsing), but the existence of “time” may very well be called into doubt as a dimension in its own right. It may simply be a function of action, or even more tenuous, only the means by which we make sense of the succession of events that action consists of, the way that we organise the past, and the present – that flowing place where action is actually happening, like a wave that we surf on.

            And where there is no action (ie no mass or energy or any combination thereof, in other words nothing at all, not even the smallest fragment of a quark – though I suspect we’ll find that there will be sub-particles within quarks, and sub-particles within the sub-particles) time will not exist. I suspect we know next to nothing about what’s out there, and we’re going to be working on it, and drasstically changing our explanations, for a very long time. Hopefully fruitfully. But science that closes up so many possibilities by holding fast to the notion of all of this originating from a singularity will be anything but fruitful I believe.

            I suspect this is just a stage/phase: first we realised that Earth wasn’t the centre of things, and that we were part of a solar system, then we clocked the galaxies and the solar systems they contain, then the idea of a super cluster of galaxies (ie the universe) took hold. Do we really think – again – that this is the end of it . . .

            When we are eventually able to see further, we’ll see a great deal more is the wager I’d be happy to make. And that refers to both directions: into the atom and beyond the known universe. Maybe by then we’ll have a better understanding of the mind too, and why we sometimes seem keen to close it down with restrictive thinking, and find it so difficult to see and sympathise with opposing points of view.

    • Space is expanding, and the matter gets carried along with it. But the density of matter started out random, not uniform, otherwise the universe would be a very boring place. And yes, areas (volumes, really) with greater matter density naturally have a greater gravitational attraction for other matter, which create a more or less runaway local increase until the distances become too great. In this process, clouds of matter (mostly hydrogen) collapse, eventually forming galaxies and–at greater distances within these clouds–clusters of galaxies. And nearby galaxies attract each other.

    • That’s not the question that should be asked. There are are many ways to discover patterns in the signals and conceive of explanations that are “consistent with”. The interesting question is whether the signals have fidelity, and the assumptions/assertions that underlie the objects and processes inferred from them. We have only made near observation at what is ostensibly the edge of our solar system.

    • Kip
      The way to think about the big bang idea is that you are in the dot that is expanding ( helps me ).
      There is no central point everything is coming from because everything is the central point.
      What happens at the “edge” of the dot is a bit weird to comprehend.

      • @Zemlik.
        Red dot on the surface of an expanding balloon where the surface is 3-D space. Our 3-D space is expanding in a 4-D space. If you have trouble getting your mind around that concept read “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” by Edwin Abbot Abbot https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland and “Sphereland: A Fantasy About Curved Spaces and an Expanding Universe,” by Dionys Burger. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphereland. They should help. Although it’s been said that only mathematicians and children can really wrap their minds around it.

    • We know that space craft can be directed and sped up by using the gravitational force of a planet or moon — i.e. the slingshot effect. A similar situation could also exist on a much longer time-scale between two, non-interacting galaxies, where one galaxy is sling-shot by another galaxy, which sends it colliding into a third galaxy.

    • We of course live in 3 spatial dimensions plus a forward arrow of time. We cannot physically imagine a 4 D world, so reduce to a 2D world to visually understand our observable part of the universe.
      The best 2D analogy of what is happening is the universe we oberve is a balloon surface. We exist on that 2D surface (remember we eliminated 1 dimension so as to visualize our situation). Time is the vertical axis. Forward time is up. The past is down, toward the Big Bang where our balloon expansion started rather suddenly. What has happened in the past is fixed, entropy won’t allow it without an infinite expenditure of energy. So we can not go back there. We can’t go back and kill our grandfather fortunately for us.

      Our 2D “sight line” is restricted to seeing only along the surface of the balloon in the x and y plane of the balloon.
      We can’t look “up” as that is the time arrow direction. We can imagine what it will look like as we expand, but local events down to the quantum level ensures everything has in the up direction only has a probability attached to it. (Herr Shroedinger said something about that).
      The flow of energy and the resulting entropy provides the arrow of time.

      Dark energy (Einstein’s Cosmologic Constant) expands the universe, every direction. The balloon is inflating. The point furthest from us on the balloon is moving away from us the fastest. Everything else in between is an intermediate of that red-shifting departure, a deparure rate dependent on distance which we have quatified as the Hubble constant.
      Gravity does not come into play at the macroscale of the entire balloon of 13.7 billion years in half chord length to the farthest point from us.. The balloon is far too big now for gravity. And in the earliestest sub-sub-sub-microseconds of the Big Bang the expansion from Dark Energy was supra-luminal. Gravity is only able to “work” across a scale distance of mega parsecs down to meters, as in a black hole just before it winks out of existence in a singularity.
      Today, Only Dark Energy and its expansive force on space-time is relevant on the scale of billions of light years. Recent work (1990’s) from the study of type 1A supernovas has suggested that expansion of the balloon has begun to accelerate. The Big Rip is now fashionable amng many cosmologists from this experimental observation.

      Now on closer scales of a few dozens of million light years, gravity can play a significant role in holding together, at least for now, clusters of galaxies. We live in one, the Virgo galaxy cluster of probably a few hundred large galaxies (like the Milky Way) and many, many thousands of smaller satellite galaxies that will in time be gobbled up by the bigger ones. Andromeda and our Milky Way have undoubtedly already gobbled up dozens in the last 6-8 billion years.

      So these two galaxies we see in this Hubble telescope image are probably outside our own local group, outside the gravity grip of our Local group. And in the far distant future, the Big Rip will make them wink out of existance as they red-shift from our view in this galaxy.
      The balloon will continue to stretch and stretch. Will the fabric of space-time rip at some point as the vacuum energy gets too low???

        • We are clearly caught in a space-time rip in the universe. Here is the proof:

          We all KNOW that increasing atmospheric CO2 causes global warming, right? OK!

          But we also know that atmospheric CO2 lags global temperature by about 9 months in the modern data record, right? OK! (References: MacRae, 2008, Humlum et al 2013)

          Therefore, the future is causing the past! RRRIPPPPP!

          That’s all for now! Let’s talk again tomorrow, er, yesterday!

    • I’m not an astronomer but my 2 cents is the big bang theory is flawed. I would guess there were many ‘big bangs’ big and small. One just sounds to simple.

      • Other than the latest evidence indicates that the expansion is increasing faster, and 2) 2nd law of thermodynamics always rules.

    • Kip:
      Keep in mind that the current “big bang” hypothesis is one of a multitude of possibilities. None are proven.

      Decidedly contrary to a “big bang” hypothesis is the current belief that galaxies and other matter are gaining speed as they expand.

      My preferred hypothesis came from a presentation regarding dimensional ruptures where the presenter described the universe’s origination as resembling gaseous matter introduced into absolute vacuum. That matter expands to fill the vacuum with speed increasing over time.

      As far as being how certain this is how our universe initiated, these hypotheses are roughly equivalent to man believing gods threw fires and people into space.
      The unvarnished truth is that we do not know and humans are postulate fables until they can prove something.

      Then there is the problem about gravitational, magnetic influences and even matter-matter repulsion or attraction.
      Factors that cause/force expanding matter to clump/orbit/repel/attract as it begins outward journey.
      Strong gravitational attraction continually influences direction and attraction.

      It is believed that Andromeda is the result of a prior galactic collision. Subsequent to the Milky Way Galaxy colliding with Andromeda Galaxy, there is a strong chance that a third galaxy will collide with combined Milky Way/Andromeda.

      Where it gets confusing is how and why Andromeda and the Milky Way can manage to collide when the areas between and around our galaxies is empty. Why and how does a force exist that can keep galaxies organized while their mutual attraction forcibly brings them together.

      Just how big are those postulated black holes? Is it possible that the Milky Way is already within the event horizons of such monsters?
      The good news is that our Milky Way suns will be old and dim before we get sucked into the gravitational monsters.
      We’ll need a new Earth and a new sun long before then.

      • ATheoK ==> The varied responses to by question are the very reason I asked it. If you follow the polls on scientific understanding, you know that the big Bang, acceptance of, is one of the requirements for being scientifically educated.

        A very interesting set of responses, though, wasn’t it?

    • I was thinking same, but came late, so could thete be a possible explanation?
      Yes, but not likely.
      Originally there was cluster of three revolving galaxies of which centre one including spiral arms of the outer two were consumed by the middle galaxy’s black hole and no more visible. Combined gravity of the centre could be stronger than the expansion force.
      I am not entirely convinced in existence of either BB or BHs, but the steady state model provides even less of an explanation.
      p.s. zooming onto the photo, in the 90 degrees corner there is a small unusual circle of stars with a bright up in the centre, possibly caused by the matter being pulled in by the black hole
      https://4k4oijnpiu3l4c3h-zippykid.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/195068_web.jpg

    • The best analogy for Cosmic Inflation is of a balloon with galaxies painted on it. As the balloon is inflated, all the galaxies get further and further from one another. There is no “centre” to the Universe.

      • Graemethecat ==> “As the balloon is inflated, all the galaxies get further and further from one another. There is no “centre” to the Universe.” Yes, that is one of the “talking points” often used to explain something we don’t understand.

        If that idea is true, then “all the galaxies get further and further from one another” and none can collide with any other.

        • “As the balloon [which is a Klein Bottle] is inflated, all the galaxies get further and further from one another.”

    • If the force of gravity is drawing two galaxies together faster than the expansion of space is pulling them apart, then they are going to collide.

  6. However, we now know that NGC 6052 actually consists of two galaxies that are were in the process of colliding

    about 230 million light-years away ago

    Am I wrong? Expect I am.

    • “. . . two galaxies that were in the process of colliding, as shown in the Hubble photograph, about 230 million years ago.”

      Years ago for time, light-years for distance. Otherwise, good catch. I suspect most of the “collision” was complete many millions of years ago, and consolidation is still occurring, but confirmation by Hubble will take another 300 million or so years 🙂

  7. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, will undergo a similar collision in the future with our nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy. However, this is not expected to happen for around 4 billion 12 years.

    • “Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, will undergo a similar collision in the future with our nearest galactic neighbor”

      It has been revealed recently that The Milky Way Galaxy has had mergers with dwarf galaxies in the past and will have more in the future. We still don’t even know how many dwarf galaxies are orbiting the Milky Way.

  8. When this happens, do the black holes at the galaxies merge. Or could they evolve into a bar like galaxy?

  9. “A long time ago gravity drew the two galaxies together into the chaotic state we now observe.”

    I felt a great disturbance in the Force. As if millions of imaginary, super-computer modeled voices cried out in error, and were suddenly silenced … as the cold of the New Little Ice Age settled around them.

  10. However, actual collisions between stars themselves are very rare as stars are very small relative to the distances between them (most of a galaxy is empty space).

    What’s always fascinated me is that not only is most of a galaxy empty space, but almost everything else is too.

    There is almost nothing at all, with a few galaxies spread about in the void. In a galaxy, there is almost nothing at all, with a few solar systems spread about in the void. In a solar system, there is almost nothing at all, with a relatively tiny sun and few insignificant planets spread about in the empty space.

    Even in the planets, most of it is pretty empty, just a few atoms spread about. Within those atoms there is, once again, almost nothing at all except empty space.

    Statistically, nothing actually exists!

      • aha! n.n.
        Well done! Dark matter, by some postulates as much as 96% of the universe. Cold chunks of dead stars or whatever seems quite plausible and would significantly effect the visible universe by gravity. The nice neat radial expansion of cosmic stuff from its point source 13.5 billion years ago has had plenty of time to be distorted by cold dark dense stuff exerting its unseen gravitational tug.
        As they say in Suffolk “jest cos it don’t shine so’s ya cain’t see it don’t means ‘taint thar!”
        Cheers
        Mike

        • “As they say in Suffolk “jest cos it don’t shine so’s ya cain’t see it don’t means ‘taint thar!”

          I saw a report not long ago about how astronomers thought they had finally found the missing baryonic matter in the universe by finding abudant oxygen spread along the spiderweb of the universe.

          So they have now supposedly accounted for all the baryonic matter in the universe.

          I guess this means that any new baryonic matter discovered in the future reduces the amount of dark matter assumed to exist.

          I used “baryonic matter” above in the way it is commonly used by the astronomical community.

          http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/cosmos/B/baryonic+matter

    • ZZW,

      And according to quantum mechanics solid materials only exist when observed and are otherwise probability distributions of potential matter if on one is looking.

      • That’s probably true… 🙂

        But seriously, I thought that any measurements, even if not observed by anyone, can collapse the wave / particle duality thingy?

  11. Ok, bear with me. I have been out of school a long time. ‘Back in the day’, solving a two-body gravitational problem was straightforward. Add one more gravitational point source of equal mass to the other two, thus making it a three body problem, and forget it. You just can’t solve it (at least then). How many bodies are we talking about here, exerting unbalanced forces in multiple directions? Did they really compute the changes in the orbital mechanics, and the result was a merging of the galaxies? I find that hard to believe.

    I would think this situation would result much like what transpired with Oumuamua. It exerted a very small gravity force on our solar system, but was pulled by the forces of a medium size star, eight planets of varying sizes, a few planetoids, and a lot of solar system debris. But it was not captured by our solar system. The gravitational forces undoubtedly changed its trajectory, but it kept on truckin’ and continued on. If you increased the mass of Oumuamua, you also increase its momentum. I would expect it to perturb our solar system more, but be even less influenced in its path while going through our system.

    I would posit that the two galaxies would pass through each other, with some distortion in shapes, but not merge, and each continue on their separate paths, albeit with slightly changed trajectories.

  12. The Hubble Telescope is worth every penny we spent on it.
    ========
    Fingers crossed the Webb makes it into space in our lifetimes. If it works out – ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’

    • ” If it works out – ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet”

      That’s true. I am eager to see the James Webb telescope up and running. I imagine there are a lot of people out there like me. 🙂

  13. However, actual collisions between stars themselves are very rare as stars are very small relative to the distances between them (most of a galaxy is empty space). Eventually the galaxies will fully merge to form a single, stable galaxy.

    A spherical galaxy.

  14. I no longer feel the need to lose a few lbs………. suddenly I feel small and insignificant

  15. Regarding “Big Bang” that one is up there with the furies. The idea that
    all matter in the vast universe started off with a ball the size of a football is completely crazy, where is the vast energy to create it to come from ?

    Fred Hoyles “Steady State” makes a lot more sense to me, but of course my
    leaving school in 1941 makes me completely unqualified to state such
    things.

    MJE

    • Infinite density. Higher dimensions. Tunneling. There are a number of mechanisms to match the perceived and inferred patterns.

      I think they should remain in the philosophical logical domain, but the consensus insists on prematurely integrating them into the scientific logical domain (i.e. near-space and time, where observation and replication are processed), backed by a number of assumptions/assertions (e.g. uniformity, invariance) to ensure they are plausible in the “consistent with” model of scientific philosophy and practice.

  16. Kip: “The varied responses to by question are the very reason I asked it. If you follow the polls on scientific understanding, you know that the big Bang, acceptance of, is one of the requirements for being scientifically educated.”

    Well done. “educated” versus being scientific. Everybody knows the seemingly settled science, the answer, but few know the question or can show the work to get the answer. So only those few can see how strong or shaky the answer is. But everybody can be skeptical.

    It’s good to read Luboš Motl’s blog because he gives the scientific viewpoint we will never see on MSM. He doesn’t dumb it down, so be warned.
    https://motls.blogspot.com/2019/03/why-inflation-is-better-explanation-of.html

  17. The word “colliding” is misleading– the distance between stars is so vast that the galaxies will almost certainly pass right through each other without a single collision, despite the hundreds of billions of stars. Their structures, however, are being torn apart by gravitational forces.

  18. Galaxies weren’t discovered until the 20th century (by Hubble) Herschel did not know that he was looking at galaxies! sloppy reporting!

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