Nasa spots mysterious ‘battling galaxies’ locked in ‘wild and violent’ conflict

Nasa has released a picture of two galaxies ‘battling’ way out in deep space.

The two spiral star systems look a little bit our own Milky Way, which is also doomed to wage its own cosmic war against a neighbour galaxy.

‘What’s happening to these spiral galaxies?’ Nasa asked.

‘Although details remain uncertain, there sure seems to be a titanic battle going on.’

The upper galaxy is called UGC 1810, but is also named Arp 273 when considered part of one large system along with its sparring partners.

‘The overall shape of the UGC 1810 – in particular its blue outer ring – is likely a result of wild and violent gravitational interactions,’ Nasa added.

‘The blue colour of the outer ring at the top is caused by massive stars that are blue hot and have formed only in the past few million years.

This pair of galaxies are locked in cosmic combat (Image: Nasa)

‘The inner part of the upper galaxy – itself an older spiral galaxy – appears redder and threaded with cool filamentary dust.

‘A few bright stars appear well in the foreground, unrelated to colliding galaxies, while several far-distant galaxies are visible in the background.’

Arp 273 lies about 300 million light-years away towards the constellation of Andromeda.

It’s ‘quite likely’ that UGC 1810 will ‘devour its galactic sidekicks over the next billion years and settle into a classic spiral form’.

At some point in the future, our galaxy will plough into Andromeda and form a massive new star system.

Scientists have worked out how long we’ve got until the Milky Way smashes into a neighbouring galaxy – and you don’t need to be too worried just yet.

It’s now believed this will happen in 4.5 billion years time, rather than 3.9 billion years into the future.

Astronomers used data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite to study the movements of Andromeda.

An artist’s impression of the collision between Andromeda and the Milky Way viewed from Earth

MORE: The Milky Way ‘died’ a long time ago and we’re living through its Second Coming

They said the collision will happen later than expected and will also be ‘less destructive’, with the two galaxies hitting each other in a ‘glancing blow’ rather than a head-on collision.

‘This finding is crucial to our understanding of how galaxies evolve and interact,” says Timo Prusti, ESA Gaia Project Scientist.

So what will happen when Andromeda hits the Milky Way?

With both galaxies made up of more than 100 billion stars, you might think that the collision will be explosive.

But it’s believed that gap between stars is so huge that the actual number of collisions is likely to be small.

However, the stellar dance caused by this cosmic carve-up will still be very dramatic.

The gravitational chaos caused when the two galaxies begin to interact with each other will throw stars out of their orbit and into a huge swirl.

It’s likely the two galaxies would then settle down to form a new galaxy.

Our own solar system would probably survive this process, although it seems unlikely that humanity will be around to see it.


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