Impending Merger

Possibly the most intriguing bit of news I’ve heard in the past few weeks is the new level of certainty reached by scientists that our Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy will merge in about 4 billion years.

There had been some doubt. Sky watchers have noticed the movements and have wondered if the two galaxies might be drawn together by their gravity – this at a time when the universe itself is expanding faster and faster, leaving even more emptiness between the objects. But these two galaxies are close enough that the expansion will not draw them apart.

Galaxies, as big as they are, have their own destiny and ours apparently is to join with Andromeda.

We’re talking about billions of stars, some (maybe all) dragging a retinue of planets, asteroids, comets and debris, coming together in one grand conglomeration. And yet none of the stars will hit each other! This was said with certainty in one article I read – yet how can they know?

And if the merger of two galaxies is anything like the acquisition/merger of two corporations here on Earth, there are bound to be casualties. Several hundred duplicate retail outlets and half the staff of the PR department, for example.

Two things drove the magnitude of this event home for me –

One is a video simulation of the galaxies as they are expected to interact – an initial co-mingling 4 billion years from now with momentum that carries them apart again, and a final, second alignment 2 billion years later. Looks like fun if you’re not in the middle of it!

The other is a simulation of the night sky as seen from Earth with Andromeda approaching – about 3.75 billion years from now. Imagine if you went outside and saw this.

Beautiful, romantic, and a bit like looking down the train tracks at the onrushing southbound commuter as your wheels spin in the mud. Gulp.

Who knows if we, as humans, will still be around to witness the merger? Probably not. But I did see a cockroach the other day and I tried to tell him (her?) to keep an eye on the sky for big changes. I got the usual disappearing act for an answer.

In such an unpredictable world, I’m amazed whenever we KNOW something is going to happen for certain and for sure. Galaxies will collide. Neither Congress nor the Koch brothers will be able to stall it or stop it or spin it.

As in corporate mergers, making everyone feel comfortable with joining the new entity will be a challenge. Maybe a clever name and some good signage will help.

What should we call the new galaxy?

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80 thoughts on “Impending Merger”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    My puppy just licked the screen of my iPad and started the video which scared her. Great way to start a Baboon day.

    I don’t know what to name a space merger. Space is not my thing. However, if you did not tune into the discussions this weekend, be sure to read over yesterday’s banter. Chris and tim started composing a political musical named Left Slide Story. It is too good to miss.

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      1. That would be my vote. The parody possibilities are too rich to miss. Dale, you ought to have some ideas for this musical as well!

        While I am not a poet or a singer, so not the creator of such parody, I surely do love it!

        Then we can put on a show in our back yard ala Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

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  2. andromeda has such a nice rhythmic melody to the name and milky way is so comforting that maybe the dylansagan goodtime galaxie. we can predict it will be the rockinist galaxie in the universe. no more gravity concerns or planetary collisions. we godt it made in the shade on dylansegan baby.
    named after bob dylan and carl sagan. what other pair could better be named to start a new universe with billions and billions of stars

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    1. Very good, Clyde — how appropriate, but hasn’t it been done :-) At any rate, no earthly entities will be in a position to contest the galaxie merger, will they? We’ll just be along for the ride of a lifetime.

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  3. Good morning. I can think of several names that might work – The Big Mix, The Big Mess, Unitis, Mergio, and Amalgamatus. None of those seem to be just right. I will look forward to finding out what others have to offer. I think Mocha Latte and Mort are good ones.

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    1. I like Ratatoullie! Jumbo gumbo :-) There’s going to be a whole lotta stuff swirling around out there.

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    1. Had to look this up. Belated Snort! (How is it I’ve never read the Hitchhiker’s Guide . books?) Anyone know what was the name of that bar in Star Wars?

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    1. yes but with steve jobs dead would the overall galaxie meet the spec and quality control levels we have all come to expect? and when we would we see applelaxy 2 with the bugs taken out ? a billlion years later?

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  4. I think there will be some way to exploit the naming rights. Monsanto may have most of the control by then. Although, with so much time intervening, corporation mergers, power struggles, I’m sure the names will have melded and morphed to something unrecognizable.

    Explanation: By nature I am drawn to the beauty of this event. This is not reflected in my answer because I was awakened before 7 this morning by an advertising text from t-mobile! more later from my not grouchy and jaded self.

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  5. Others have come up with great names and I’m not much of a star person but this reminds me (OT.OT.OT) of interesting names recently given to friends’ grandchildren.
    Margaret Heron – “Her middle name is special to us because it reminds us of the herons in the tidal rivers of Maine, where we got engaged and also where we were married.”
    Ari Benoit – his first name means lion cub and his middle name is the Old French word for “blessed”.
    Another young woman came into her marriage with a hyphenated last name. When she and her husband had a baby, the easiest thing to do would have been to use the father’s single syllable last name. Instead, they chose the grandmother’s half of the hyphenated name because the family name was about to die out. You can imagine how my friend (whose name it is) was touched.
    It’s interesting to move into the generation where friends are becoming grandparents. Of course it was yesterday that we had babies ourselves.

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    1. We could consider a day discussing interesting names for people we’ve known. I’m glad the hyphenated woman didn’t name her baby with another hyphen.

      A dear friend called his first child Streamside (usually shortened to Streamer) because that is where the boy was conceived. Kinda hippy-ish, right? At least the act of conception took place in a pretty place so he didn’t turn out to be Backseat Volvo Rogers or something like.

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      1. :)

        Actually, it would be kind of interesting if two people with hyphenated names used all the names for their child! Barbara Lott-Schumer-Ashley-Garland. Of course, you should arrange them in such a way as to make the best possible acronym… i.e. Garland-Ashley-Lott-Schumer for GALS.

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        1. Being a hyphenated first name gal, I purposefully chose not to hyphenate the last name as well…too many hyphens (though I did joke about it some when I was dating a guy with a long Slavic last name…my name never would have fit on a standardized form again…). I kinda like my neighbors’ solution: they chose a new last name that they both took, no hyphens.

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