Can galaxies die?

We know that stars die, so is it possible for a galaxy to pass on too?

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Most of the galaxies that we observe are billions of years old

Most of the galaxies that we observe are billions of years old

Asked by Brian Whitstable

Galaxies are not really living objects, so while they can’t die, they can in fact change. The galaxies we see in the night sky have been around for billions of years and remain unchanged for millions of years.

However they do evolve and they can also be disrupted by the gravity from other galaxies. In fact, our own Milky Way is on a collision with one of our neighbours, the Andromeda galaxy. In a few billion years we will pass close enough that both galaxies will be deformed and will eventually merge. At this point a huge amount of star formation will be kicked off and the resulting galaxy will be a large elliptical blob rather than the fine disc like structures we can currently see.

Answered by Josh Barker from the National Space Centre

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