Astrophysicists in University of Durham predicts that the Big Cloud de Magallanes (LMC) will impact the Milky Way within 2 billion years, an event that could expel the Solar System from the galaxy.
The collision could occur long before the expected impact between the Milky Way and another neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, which scientists say will reach our galaxy in 8,000 million of years.
The catastrophic union with Great Magellanic Cloud it could awaken the inactive black hole of our galaxy, which would begin to devour the surrounding gas and increase its size up to ten times.
While feeding, the now active black hole would shed high-energy radiation and although these cosmic fireworks did not affect life on Earth, scientists say there is a small possibility that the initial collision could send our Solar system to space.
The findings are published this January 4 in the magazine Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Galaxies as our Milky Way they are surrounded by a group of smaller satellite galaxies that orbit around them, similar to how bees move around a hive.
Typically, these satellite galaxies have a quiet life and orbit around their hosts for billions of years. However, from time to time, they sink into the center, they collide and are devoured for its host galaxy.
The Great Magellanic Cloud It is the brightest satellite galaxy of the Milky Way and only entered our neighborhood about 1,500 million years ago. It is about 163,000 light years from the Milky Way.
Until recently, astronomers thought it would orbit the Milky Way for many billions of years or, as it moves so fast, escape the gravitational pull of our galaxy.
However, recent measurements indicate that the Big Cloud of Magallanes has almost twice as much dark matter as previously thought. The researchers say that, because it has a larger mass than expected, the Large Magellanic Cloud is rapidly losing energy and is doomed to collide with our galaxy.
The research team, led by scientists from the Institute of Computational Cosmology from the University of Durham that works with the University of Helsinki, in Finland, used the simulation of the supercomputer of formation of galaxies EAGLE to predict the collision.
The lead author, Marius Cautun, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Computational Cosmology at the University of Durham, said in a statement: "While two a billion years is an extremely long time compared to a human life, it is a very short time on cosmic time scales.
"The destruction of the Great Magellanic Cloud, as it is devoured by the Milky Way, it will wreak havoc on our galaxy, awakening the black hole that lives in its center and turning our galaxy into an 'active galactic nucleus' or quasar.
"This phenomenon will generate powerful jets of high-energy radiation emanating from the outside of the black hole, although this will not affect our Solar system, There is a small possibility that we can not escape unharmed from the collision between the two galaxies that could throw us out of the Milky Way and into intergalactic space. "
The collision between the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Milky Way could be spectacular, researchers say.
The co-author, Professor Carlos Frenk, director of the Institute of Computational Cosmology of the University of DurhamHe said: "As beautiful as it is, our Universe is constantly evolving, often through violent events such as the next collision with the Large Magellanic Cloud.
"Unless disasters occur, as a major disturbance to the Solar system, our descendants, if there are any, will face a spectacular display of cosmic fireworks as the supermassive black hole newly awakened in the center of our galaxy reacts emitting jets of extremely bright energy radiation. "