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A new study has revealed that Milky Way will collide with Andromeda, but it might take a bit longer. Based on the observations by ESA's Gaia probe, the collision will take another 4.5 billion years to occur.
Previous predictions suggested that the galaxies will collide in 3.9 billion years. Now, analysis of data gathered by the Gaia spacecraft has given new insights on the expected collision time.
In the new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, astronomers traced stars in the Milky Way, Andromeda, and the Spiral Triangulum. They found out that the two neighbor galaxies are about 2.3 to 3 million light years away from the Milky Way and are close enough to interact with each other.
The scientists were able to track the rotation of Andromeda and Spiral Triangulum and determine how these both galaxies have been moving in the past and how they are likey to move in the next billion years. This led them to believe that the collision will take place in 4.5 billion years and will be a sideswipe instead of a head-on collision. Well, this might not affect our solar system because of the huge distance between the stars.
Messier 31, more commonly known as the Andromeda Galaxy, is the closest galaxy to the Milky Way. It can also be seen with the naked eye even with moderate pollution. Since it's so visible, it's hard to say who discovered the galaxy.