In this scientific visualization, two spiral galaxies are set on a collision course. As one slices through the other, both are disrupted. The tidal forces of gravity produce long tails of material streaming away from the collision. The central regions relatively quickly fall together and merge. The visualization is based on research data from a supercomputer simulation, with stars shown in yellow and gas shown blue. Time passes at about 30 million years per second, lasting a total of about 1.5 billion years. Such a collision may occur for our Milky Way Galaxy and the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy in about five billion years.
Visualization: Frank Summers (Space Telescope Science Institute);
Simulation: Chris Mihos (Case Western Reserve University) and Lars Hernquist (Harvard University)
Publication: April 9, 2002