- Jan 17, 2005
diewlasing points us to a story about a hydrogen cloud, eleven thousand light-years long, which will collide with the Milky Way in a devastating crossfire of shock waves and star formation...in 20-40 million years. Mark your calendars. At least it will give us something to watch while we're waiting for Andromeda to hit us in a few billion years. Hopefully, it will look at least this cool. "The detailed GBT study dramatically changed the astronomers' understanding of the cloud. Its velocity shows that it is falling into the Milky Way, not leaving it, and the new data show that it is plowing up Milky Way gas before it as it falls. 'Its shape, somewhat similar to that of a comet, indicates that it's already hitting gas in our Galaxy's outskirts,' Lockman said. 'It is also feeling a tidal force from the gravity of the Milky Way and may be in the process of being torn apart. Our Galaxy will get a rain of gas from this cloud, then in about 20 to 40 million years, the cloud's core will smash into the Milky Way's plane,' Lockman explained."