Latest astronomical measurements established that the Milky Way might be dying but there is a cure in the form of a gas cloud that is approaching our galaxy.
A professor at the Zurich Institute of Technology from Switzerland, Kevin Schawinski started a collaboration with other scientists in order to begin the work on a classification of galaxies, especially focusing on their shape.
According to their findings, the shape of a galaxy can determine its lifespan. After applying the new information on the Milky Way, the scientists discovered that there are two possibilities either the galaxy is shutting down slowly, or it has already died and we are living in a sort of zombie galaxy.
The Milky Way might be dying but there is a cure. A galaxy feeds on hydrogen gas, and the astronomers have found a huge cloud of the desired gas heading our way. This could revive the Milky Way, extending its life expectancy with a few more billion years.
The hydrogen gas is needed because it is the raw material from which stars are formed. When a galaxy runs out of hydrogen gas, the process that allows stars to be formed is ceased. And seen as stars have a limited life span, a galaxy will only continue to survive for as long as the hydrogen burning giants continue to burn. After that, all of the stars that will die will collapse and form a black hole which will slowly engulf the entire galaxy.
There are three different color codes when it comes to categorizing a galaxy. The blue galaxies which are young, and the majority of the stars are still forming, the red galaxies in which a great part of the stars are already formed, and the green galaxies which that are on the brink of death. The Milky Way falls into the third category.
But fear not, Milky Way might be dying but there is a cure and it was captured by the Hubble Telescope not long ago. The cloud of hydrogen gas that is traveling at a high speed and heading right towards our galaxy was named the “Smith Cloud”.
According to the scientists, the cloud may have been a part of the Milky Way 70 million years ago, and now the prodigal cloud –son returns just in time after gathering enough helium and hydrogen to help the mother galaxy give birth to approximately 2 new million suns.
The cloud is an important example of how galaxies change over time. Milky Way might be dying but there is a cure, the galaxy just has to hang on a couple dozen million years or so.
The Smith Cloud is estimated to reach the Milky Way in almost 30 million years.
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