Scientists have long known that the nearby galaxy Andromeda and our own Milky Way galaxy will collide in four to five billion years, but now a new computer simulation (above) from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Western Australia shows what the colossal crash may look like.
The simulation is part of new research showing that massive galaxies like Andromeda tend to grow by snacking on smaller galaxies.
“All galaxies start off small and grow by collecting gas and quite efficiently turning it into stars,” lead researcher Dr. Aaron Robotham, an astronomer at the Centre's University of Western Australia node, said in a written statement. "Then every now and then they get completely cannibalized by some much larger galaxy."
An article describing the research was published online in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on September 18, 2014.