Milky way

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The Milky Way is the term given to the galaxy that contains the Solar System because it seems like a milky, diffuse strip of light in the night sky rather than a collection of discrete stars. From the Greek o (galaktikos kklos), “milky circle,” the Latin route lactea was adopted as the English Milky Way. The Milky Way’s band-like appearance, as seen from Earth, is due to our perspective looking inward at the galaxy’s disk-like structure. In 1610, Galileo Galilei used his telescope to reveal individual stars inside the band of light. Many scientists didn’t begin to question the idea that the Milky Way contained all of the Universe’s stars until the early 1920s. After the astronomers Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis had their “Great Debate” in 1920, observations by Edwin Hubble demonstrated that the Milky Way is but one among countless galaxies.

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Its D25 isophotal diameter is estimated to be 26.8 1.1 kiloparsecs (87,400 3,590 light-years), making the Milky Way a barred spiral galaxy, yet its spiral arms are only approximately 1,000 light-years thick (more at the bulge). Recent simulations imply that a region composed mostly of dark matter but also containing some visible stars may have a diameter of over 2 million light-years (613 kpc). The Milky Way and its satellite galaxies make up the Local Group of galaxies, which in turn is a member of the Virgo Supercluster, which is a part of the Laniakea Supercluster.

It’s thought that there are between 100 and 400 billion stars and at least that many planets in it.

About 27,000 light-years (8.3 kpc) from the Galactic Center, on the inner border of the Orion Arm, one of the spiral-shaped concentrations of gas and dust, is where our Solar System may be found. Within the innermost 10,000 light-years, the bulge of stars is surrounded by one or more bars. Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, has a mass of 4.100 ( 0.034) million suns and emits a powerful radio signal. All the stars and gases in the galaxy, no matter how far away they are from the Galactic Core, revolve at a speed of around 220 kilometres per second. A constant rotating speed seems to defy Keplerian dynamics, and it argues that much of the Milky Way’s mass (about 90%) is invisible to observatories because it neither emits or absorbs electromagnetic radiation. “Dark matter” is the name given to this hypothetically large mass. At the Sun’s distance, one spin takes around 212 million years.

From an extragalactic perspective, the Milky Way is travelling at a speed of around 600 kilometres per second. The Milky Way’s oldest stars are nearly as ancient as the Universe itself, suggesting they emerged not long after the Big Bang.

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