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I would like to have a long life enough to see the smash of the galaxies. If by that time humans still exist, what will they see or feel as the first symptoms of the crash?
Question Date: 2007-08-30
Answer 1:

Thanks for the very good question you asked. I hope you love astronomy and will study hard and someday become an astronomer.

Well as amazing as this will sound, if you were living on a planet within a galaxy that was undergoing merger with yet another galaxy what you would see on Earth is...NOTHING UNUSUAL!!!!!!!!!

How can this be??? It does not seem to make sense with the idea of colliding galaxies does it? This seems like a PARADOX (look up this word!!).How is this PARADOX resolved?

Well, it gets right to the matter of the DISTANCES between stars... the average distance between stars in the MILKY way Galaxy is 30,000,000,000,000 miles!!!!THIS IS THE distance to the closest star to the sun; its name is PROXIMA CENTAURI.

This is a HUGE distance to the nearest star... so even if another galaxy was superimposed or "colliding" with the Milky Way, the average distance between the stars would still be HUGE...that is, if there were twice as many stars in the Milky way the average distance would be half as much or 15,000,000,000,000 miles so you can see THAT is a very long way. The distance between Earth and sun is only 93,000,000 miles.

So what one would see mainly due to galactic merger is that instead of seeing about 3000 stars on a CLEAR night far away from city lights, maybe you would be able to see with the naked eye about 6000 stars... you would see a few more stars ... but thats about it... there would be no great explosions.

I hope this helps. You are not too young to find a good astronomy book and start learning more about this business. I hope my answer makes sense to you.

Answer 2:

There are a number of galaxies that are in the act of colliding right now, and we can watch it happen, if slowly. However, gravity models are now good enough that we can easily predict what is going to happen, and then observe real pairs of colliding galaxies in any given stage of the crash.

Answer 3:

I'm very sorry to disappoint you. If our galaxy were to collide with another one, we would hardly notice it. The 'problem', if you want to call it that, is that the distance between solar systems within a galaxy is so much larger than their own size. For comparison imagine two swarms of bees on a head-on collision course (sounds like fun, doesn't it?). If you compare the average distance between neighboring bees in a swarm with the size of each bee, you will find a great difference. This means that as the swarms collide, the bees would simply pass each other with very few bees colliding with another bee. Having said that, it should be fun to be able to watch such a collision from the outside. You may find the following link of interest:

click here

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