A black hole millions of times the mass of the sun is rushing towards Earth, threatening to wipe out life as we know it. The black hole is travelling at 110 kilometres per second towards us and is located at the centre of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way’s nearest and much larger neighbour. A supermassive black hole at the centre of most galaxies is surrounded by stars and helps keep everything in place.
However, due to the enormous gravitational pull of the Milky Way and Andromeda, they are being dragged toward each other and will collide one day. “There’s a black hole in the centre of the Milky Way,” writes Fraser Cain, publisher of the astronomy website Universe Today, for Phys.org.
“And not just any black hole, it’s a supermassive black hole with more than 4.1 million times the mass of the Sun. It’s right over there, in the direction of the Sagittarius constellation. Located just 26,000 light-years away. And as we speak, it’s in the process of tearing apart entire stars and star systems, occasionally consuming them, adding to its mass like a voracious shark.”
However, due to the enormity of Andromeda, there will only be one winner when it collides with the Milky Way. However, because Andromeda is 2.5 million light years away, it will take more than four billion years to reach us, so we are secure for the time being.
Mr Cain said: “Panic will happen when the Milky Way collides with Andromeda in about 4 billion years. Suddenly, you’ll have two whole clouds of stars interacting in all kinds of ways, like an unstable blended family. Stars that would have been safe will careen past other stars and be deflected down into the maw of either of the two supermassive black holes on hand. Andromeda’s black hole could be 100 million times the mass of the Sun, so it’s a bigger target for stars with a death wish.”