Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is on a collision course with its neighbor Andromeda. Although the collision will take place about 4 billion years from now, astronomers have long placed bets on which of the two star systems is more likely to survive the mega crash.
Until recently, Andromeda, currently roughly 2.5 million light-years away from the Milky Way, was the clear favorite. But a new study suggests the outcome of the cosmic smashup might be closer to a tie.
In a paper published online Jan. 10 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a team of astronomers led by Prajwal Kafle from the University of Western Australia estimated that the mass of Andromeda, also known as M31, is much lighter than previously thought. This, Kafle said, puts Andromeda’s mass on par with the Milky Way’s, which means there will be no clear winner in the future intergalactic collision.