Could we colonise another galaxy?

12 March 2019

EARTH-SPACE

Earth from space

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Question

Would it be possible for humans to venture outside of the milky way galaxy to colonise another planet in a different galaxy?

Answer

Jed got in touch on Twitter with this rather ambitious question. Chris Smith asked physicist Adam Murphy to crunch the numbers and it looks like we're staying put. For now...

Adam - I think the answer to this is, unfortunately, unless we have some real new technology... No.

I'm reminded of the Douglas Adams quote from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which is "that space is vastly, hugely, mind bogglingly big." So if you think that Voyager 1, the satellite which has left the solar system, that travels at about 17 km every single second. That translates to in space terms one light year, which is the distance light travels in the year. It goes 1 ly every 20,000 years or so and the nearest galaxy to us is about and two and a half million light years away; that's the galaxy Andromeda so 20,000 years to go one light year. We are going a huge distance just to get to that next one. Even Star Trek with all its new technology, unless something very weird happened even they were confined to this galaxy.

Chris - So it's a no from you?

Adam - Unless we can find a way to make wormholes and pierce through space in an instant yeah, probably no.

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