THE MILKY WAY is on a "doomsday" collision course with a nearby galaxy – and the enormous space smash just got a new deadline.
Scientists now believe that we will hit Andromeda in 4.5 billion years' time, about 600 million years later than we thought.
But our galaxy is still doomed, as the meeting with cause the pair to merge, changing the form of Milky Way for good.
In the solar system, gravity will probably tug the Sun into a new orbit, dragging Earth and other planets with it.
Researchers tracked the positions of stars in nearby galaxies to calculate when Andromeda hits the Milky Way.
They used data from the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite, which maps the billions of stars to measure their position and speed.
Stellar movements in the Milky Way, Andromeda and another nearby galaxy called Triangulum show a collision will happen later than thought.
The pair will smash into one another in about 4.5billions years' time – a fair chunk longer than the 3.9-billion-year estimates calculated in previous studies.
It also suggests that the blow will be more of a "sidewipe" than a head on collision.
This will still cause a lot of disruption within the two galaxies, possibly warping the positions of millions of stars and planets.
"This finding is crucial to our understanding of how galaxies evolve and interact," said Gaia project scientist Timo Prusti.
Andromeda is an island of trillion suns, so far away that its light takes more than 2.5million years to reach us.
The galaxy is currently racing towards the Milky Way at 250,000 miles per hour – fast enough to circle the world for just six minutes.
The findings are reported in the Astrophysical Journal.
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Check out these amazing shots of the Bennu asteroid that could hit Earth in a cataclysmic crash.
Are you worried about our impending collision with another galaxy? Let us know in the comments!
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