“Above me shone the stars, for the night was very clear. I felt a certain sense of friendly comfort in their twinkling. All the old constellations had gone from the sky, however: that slow movement which is imperceptible in a hundred human lifetimes, had long since rearranged them in unfamiliar groupings. But the Milky Way, it seemed to me, was still the same tattered streamer of star-dust as of yore.”
– H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, 1898
7. Future Sky (6:37)
(See Spiral Metamorphosis for an introductory description of the collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda)
We present the collision here from the interesting perspective of the Sun using two all sky views. The first view projects the full 360 degrees of the sky onto an oval map using aan Aitov projection while the second view show one hemispheric dome of the night sky projected onto a circe. In the sky views, one particle is identified as the sun within the model of the Milky Way and our view is always from this perpective with our attention directed towards the central bulge of the Galaxy making for a mind boggling spectacle!
The arch of the Milky Way is apparent at first as a band of stars and tiny Andromeda is seen scrolling past beneath the arch but slowly growing in size as it approaches. When the 2 galaxies intersect, the sun is flung out far from the colliding pair of galaxies and our view oscillates between a remote view of events to a wild ride right through the centre of the galactic bulge! The orbit of the sun is no longer circular but now follows a convoluted pattern with the distorted gravitational field of the merging galaxies. A final look back from the far flung sun shows the final merger of the two galaxies.
A shorter high-definition version of this animation was displayed as part of the Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH 2006.