There are between 100 billion and 200 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy, but the galactic core is more crowded than the rest. Also known as the Galactic Bulge, this region has around 10 billion stars and lots of gas and dust.
An old scientific and astronomical principle says that gravity always wins, and that’s precisely what happens in the core of the Milky Way. Stars that are too close to each other will eventually get into collisions, which automatically means catastrophic aftermath for any planets that are orbiting them. If there are any life forms dwelling on those planets, they will face the wrath of the cosmic armageddon – total annihilation with no chance to escape.
Most stars within the Galactic Bulge will experience close encounters
A new study made by a team of scientists from Columbia University’s Cool Worlds Lab and conducted by Moiya McTier, who is a member of Cool Worlds Lab, reveals that most stars present within the Galactic Bulge will experience dozens of close encounters. And as you’ve already guessed, this scenario should have significant implications for long-term habitability within this region of the galaxy.
Things are far from being perfect in the Universe, despite what a lot of people think. Stellar close-encounters are pretty common in the Milky Way, as they occur once every 50,000 years or so. And although 50,000 years sounds like an eternity for us, for the Universe it’s just like the blink of an eye. As the stars orbit around the center of our galaxy, their trajectories cause them to sometimes pass too close to one another.
Luckily or not, those close stellar encounters that Moiya McTier and her colleagues are talking about will be occurring over the course of one billion years. This means that our hypothetical green friends living in the Galactic Bulge will have plenty of time to invent powerful spaceships and wormholes in order to move elsewhere, in a more safe region of the galaxy. And thankfully, our Solar System is located far away from the Milky Way’s core – closer to the outskirts of the galaxy.
The study was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society,