Looking From Our Milky Way toward the Andromeda Galaxy
Image Credit: NASA; ESA; Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI; T. Hallas, and A. Mellinger
With a small telescope, you can see the Andromeda Galaxy as a thin disk near the top of the image, and just off to the left side of the Milky Way, which stretches from top to bottom.
Thanks to the four refurbishing missions by the Space Shuttle, NASA has been able to gather extended data on the motion of the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way. Based in this data, we now know how and when the two galaxies will collide.
Below, Andromeda and the Milky Way move closer, pass each other in a burst of star formation due to the tidal disruption, and eventually coalesce into an Elliptical Galaxy.
The Andromeda Galaxy Is Clearly Visible 1.37 Billion Years in the Future
2.06 Billion Years in the Future, Andromeda Dominates the Night Sky
3.49 Billion Years in the Future, Andromeda Dominates the Night Sky
Tidal Disruption Begins to Distort the Galaxies at 3.78 Billion Years
With Tidal Disruption Comes a Massive Outburst of Star Formation
Massive Distortion of Both Galaxies Occurs as They Pass Around 3.98 Billion Years
Star Formation has Begun on a Massive Scale 4.60 Billion Years
After Another Billion Years, Massive Stars Have Gone Nova
The Two Central Regions of the Galaxies Have Coalesced into an Elliptical Galaxy