"Cosmic collision": A stunning photo of the galactic merging of two galaxies is a preview of what scientists say is to come for the Milky Way - CBS News

"Cosmic collision": A stunning photo of the galactic merging of two galaxies is a preview of what scientists say is to come for the Milky Way - CBS News

Aug 11, 2022 1 min, 3 secs

New photos that show two galaxies on the cusp of colliding, as they were about 60 million years ago, and scientists say it's a preview of what's to come for our own galaxy, the Milky Way. .

The centers of the two spiral galaxies, NGC 4568 and NGC 4567, were 20,000 light-years away from each other when the photos were taken – about the same distance from Earth to the center of the Milky Way – but as they enclose upon one another, the magnitude of the collision will be unleashed. 

The galaxies will spend millions of years swinging past each other in tightening loops, creating "long streamers of stars and gas." They'll eventually be so entwined that they will exist as a single galaxy that "emerges from the chaos" without the gas or dust needed to create stars, NOIRLab said. 

NASA did say, however, that stars inside each of the galaxies will be so far apart that they don't collide with each other and will instead be thrown into different orbits around the new center of the new, combined galaxy. 

Astronomers believe that these kinds of events create elliptical galaxies, which are shaped like stretched-out circles and have minimal dust or gas to create stars, often making them duller than other galaxies

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