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Space Science

Violent Galactic Clash May Solve Cosmic Mystery 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the right-to-bear-galactic-arms dept.
astroengine writes "The mother of all cosmic collisions has been spotted between two galaxies containing a total of 400 billion stars, igniting the birth of 2,000 new stars per year! This incredible event was first spotted by the recently-retired Herschel infrared space observatory (abstract), a mission managed by the European Space Agency. This violent discovery isn't just awesome to look at, it could also help explain how massive, red elliptical galaxies evolved in the early universe."
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Violent Galactic Clash May Solve Cosmic Mystery

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  • Don't piss him off.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @03:14PM (#43796545)

    I had wasted way too many hours mesmerized by that screen saver of galaxies colliding on xwindows.
    I would try to make bets which galaxy would come out on top. The big one or the small one that is tightly bound. Or world they just merge together into a super galaxy, or will they both explode. Sigh my GPA would probably have been a few points higher if it wasn't for that screensaver.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      GPA would probably have been a few points higher if it wasn't for that screensaver.

      Yes, or we would have discovered SETI - and you'd have a giant pile of Bitcoin - with alternate uses for all those "wasted" cycles!

      In my day? It was fractint that caused hypnosis. Curse you, Stone Soup Group!

  • Think of the aliens (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Infiniti2000 (1720222) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @03:19PM (#43796587)
    I'm curious how many aliens are dying on the planets surrounding the colliding stars?
    • by osu-neko (2604) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @03:22PM (#43796611)
      Most likely none. When galaxies "collide", they merge gravitationally, but stars don't run into one another. Thing of how small a star is compared to the vast space between them. The odds of two stars colliding are so small, even when you have literally billions of them heading towards one another, the odds of a collision are extremely remote.
      • by mrsquid0 (1335303) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @03:35PM (#43796717) Homepage

        All we need to do is wait a while and we will experience this first hand. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are moving towards each other and will collide in about four billion years. Stake out your spot on the roof now because it is going to be quite a show.

        • by steelfood (895457)

          Enjoy the show. I've got an underground bunker built just for this!

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Unless it's under some kind of hyperdimensional/hyperspace "ground", I don't think a bunker will help you much... ;)

        • will collide in about four billion years.

          IIRC, our planet will not really be inhabitable by then due to the Sun's growth due to the Sun needing to burn helium and other heavier elements instead of hydrogen.

      • by mmcxii (1707574)
        True but it may not have to be a direct collision. I wonder how close a one solar mass star would have to get to Earth to pull us out of orbit enough to effectively turn Earth into a lifeless planet.

        Does anyone have simulation software that could be used to handle these kinds of questions? Windows/Linux/OSX, it doesn't matter.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tim12s (209786)

          All you need is something massive to move through the asteroid belt for a number of asteroids to get scattered across our solar system like someone breaking open a game of pool. The net result is that one of those astroids will hit likely hit us or hopefully the moon.

          You'd also be assuming that the moons orbit doesnt change drastically. That may have some fundamental change in forces which might not affect the oceans but it would most likely result in a large number of earthquakes as the system tries to f

          • by mmcxii (1707574)
            I wouldn't worry about another great bombardment from the asteroid belt. It has a total mass less than 1/10th of 1% of that of the Earth and Ceres makes up a quarter or so of that. We might get dinged a bit but I find it unlikely that something is going to change the orbit of Ceres and send it into the orbital path of the Earth but at the same time not having enough gravitational effect to pull Earth from its own orbit. Much less something being able to strip us of our moon but leaving us unaffected.

            Not to
        • Rather Close. We have a star 4 light years away that isn't doing much to our orbit.

        • It wouldn't need to pull us out of orbit by much. It would likely happen veeerrrrry slowly as the star approached. Even then, we're VERY close to the sun, so it would have to come well inside our solar system to have a really significant effect. There's such a huge number of variables involved, I'm not sure you could make a realistic model with modern computers and mathematics.

        • by Zargg (1596625)

          True but it may not have to be a direct collision. I wonder how close a one solar mass star would have to get to Earth to pull us out of orbit enough to effectively turn Earth into a lifeless planet.

          Does anyone have simulation software that could be used to handle these kinds of questions? Windows/Linux/OSX, it doesn't matter.

          http://universesandbox.com/ [universesandbox.com]

          Should be good enough to do what you want!

      • by kermidge (2221646)

        Stars wouldn't have to physically collide for a civ to die, I should think. Even mild perturbation of orbit might take a given planet out of its habitable zone for long enough, once or cyclically; all manner of electro-magnetic manifestations could really mess things up; enough dust might interfere with what a planet's civ finds needful from its sun.

      • by keytoe (91531)

        Will our sun collide directly with another star? Not likely. Will there be earth-like planets in the aftermath? Certainly so. Will those be the same planets as before the collision? I sincerely doubt it.

      • Most likely none. When galaxies "collide", they merge gravitationally, but stars don't run into one another. Thing of how small a star is compared to the vast space between them. The odds of two stars colliding are so small, even when you have literally billions of them heading towards one another, the odds of a collision are extremely remote.

        No, there probably will not be very many collisions of stars. However, there probably will be large disruption of large objects in oort clouds around such systems. The few millions of years during the collision and few million years after will be a time of large comets and possibly even some "dwarf planets" crashing through some otherwise stable star systems in erratic orbits as they get disturbed.

      • You are assuming that they are dying due to collisions. It would be a spectacular way to die but I am willing to guess that most of them are dying due to radiation poisoning from all of the star formation and supernova events (huge new stars do not live long!).

        In other words, it is likely that entire civilizations are (were) being destroyed from radiation and a constant rain of galactic dust.

    • Probably none, this was ancient history and the universe was too young. This happened 11 billion years ago.

      I really want to figure out how to make an really old news joke out of this.

    • by fredrated (639554)

      Most likely they are all dead by now, 11 billion years later.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      I'm curious how many aliens are dying on the planets surrounding the colliding stars?

      In red elliptical galaxies, the class conflict is inevitable, comrade.

  • Then I think we ought to at least give him Emeritus status!
  • War of the Galaxies.
  • I thought spiral galaxies that collide don't actually merge, because their stars don't collide. The dust and gas however, does merge. So what you have after the "collision" of two spiral galaxies is two galaxies without dust and gas that move away from each other, and a cloud of dust and gas that remains in the middle.

    • It is more complex than you suggest.

    • by tragedy (27079)

      Galaxies are collections of stars (and their satellites and interstellar dust and gas, etc.) bound together by gravitational forces (and maybe other forces we don't understand yet). When galaxies collide, they can merge without their stars physically colliding. The forces that bind the separate galaxies and allow us to think of them as discrete objects will bind the two galaxies into one discrete object without requiring that the individual stars merge. For your objection to make sense, galaxies would have

  • Can we name one of them "Lundmark's Nebula"? Though we'd have to name a star in the other galaxy 'Arisia'...

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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