The Milky Way Is Gaining New Stars From A Collision That Hasn’t Even Occurred Yet
“This is the first direct evidence of new stars forming from any galactic stream associated with the Magellanic Clouds, and it appears to have occurred from a stream of gas that’s already passed through the galactic plane. It’s eminently conceivable that it was that very event – when this gas ejected from the Magellanic Clouds passed through the Milky Way’s disk – was what triggered the formation of the new stars we’re seeing today.
When you take all of this information together, it leads to a remarkable conclusion that changes the way we think our local galactic neighborhood is evolving. New gas is already being funneled into the Milky way from satellite galaxies that are still nearly 200,000 light-years away. This gas, low in heavy element abundance but cool in temperature, provides about 95% of the cold gas suitable for the formation of new Milky Way stars. These nearby galaxies haven’t even encountered us yet, and we’re already forming new stars because of them.”
In another few hundred million years, the two Magellanic Clouds, located a little less than 200,000 light-years away, will collide with and begin merging with our Milky Way. But already, over 100 million years ago, a fraction of the gas from these clouds came into our galaxy and formed stars! 94,000 light-years away, in the halo of the Milky Way, these stars are unlike anything else seen in our galaxy before.