A Crushing End for Our Galaxy

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Science  07 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5450, pp. 62-64
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5450.62

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Astronomers have long suspected that small clumps of stars and gas rained down upon our infant galaxy to help build its structure. Now they are beginning to spy evidence of both past mergers and ones that are taking place even now. And a few billion years from now--perhaps even before Earth is incinerated by our dying sun--looms our galaxy's brutal fate: a merger with M31, the Andromeda galaxy. Indeed, violent encounters between spiral galaxies may have produced most of the bloblike elliptical galaxies in the universe today.