A nearby galaxy is on a collision course with the Milky Way, and it could spell the end for life on Earth.
A new study by researchers from Durham University has revealed that the galaxy, called the Large Magellanic Cloud, could hit our galaxy in just two billion years’ time.
Such a collision could wake up the Milky Way’s dormant black hole, which would in turn devour surrounding gas.
As the black hole feeds, it would give off high-energy radiation, which could send our Solar System hurtling into space.
Dr Marius Cautun, who led the study, said: “There is a small chance that we might not escape unscathed from the collision between the two galaxies, which could knock us out of the Milky Way and into space.”
The Large Magellanic Cloud sits about 163,000 light years from our galaxy, and only became our neighbour around 1.5 billion years ago.
Until recently, experts believed that the galaxy would either orbit the Milky Way for billions of years, or escape from our galaxy’s gravitational pull.
But new measurements suggest that the Large Magellanic Cloud has nearly twice as much matter as initially thought.
This larger mass means that the galaxy is rapidly losing energy, and is ‘doomed’ to collide with our galaxy.