Galaxy which will crash into Milky Way and DESTROY Earth pictured for first time

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Galaxy which will crash into Milky Way and DESTROY Earth pictured for first time (Image: ESO / A. McLeod et al.)

Durham University found a satellite galaxy on the edge of the Milky Way is heading inwards. A satellite galaxy is a smaller galaxy which orbits a massive one. When this satellite galaxy, dubbed the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), finally reaches the inside of the Milky Way, it could knock Earth off of its perch and shove our planet out of the Goldilocks Zone – the region in the solar system where temperatures are perfect for life to thrive.

The consequences of this will be dire, and life on Earth will cease to exist at that point.

Durham scientists made the discovery in January, and now astronomers have the first high definition image of the galaxy, which is on the Milky Way’s doorstep.

The images were taken using the European Southern Observatory's aptly named Very Large Telescope.

LMC is now just 160,000 lightyears away, and while that seems an insurmountable distance, scientists say it is "practically on our doorstep”.

It will not be the LMC itself which will wreak havoc on Earth and our solar system, but the chain of events which will follow, scientists say.





A gravitational push and shove will occur across the Milky Way, and the leaders of the study warn it could awaken a monster supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

Lead author Marius Cautun, a cosmologist at Durham University, said: "The destruction of the Large Magellanic Cloud, as it is devoured by the Milky Way, will wreak havoc with our galaxy, waking up the black hole that lives at its center and turning our galaxy into an 'active galactic nucleus' or quasar.”

Scientists believe eventually the sun would expand to such a point that it consumes the Earth, before our host star dies in a massive supernova – this was not believed to be for around four billion years.

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The LMC is "practically on our doorstep”. (Image: NASA)

But new estimates suggest that the LMC will affect life on Earth within two billion years.

Dr. Cautun added: “Any such change is very dangerous for life, since even small variations in the distance between the Earth and the Sun can move our planet outside the Goldilocks zone and make it either too hot or too cold for life.

“While two billion years is an extremely long time compared to a human lifetime, it is a very short time on cosmic timescales.”

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