How large Is The Milky Way?


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The Milky Way is our home galaxy, the place where the Earth lives. We are nowhere at the center—NASA claims we are about 165 quadrillion miles away, for example, the black hole of the galaxy—this shows how giant the universe is. So how large is it, and how does it work with other people in the neighborhood?


The statistics are awe-inspiring. NASA believes that the galaxy spans 100,000 light-years. With a light-year about 9.5 x 1012 km, the Milky Way galaxy has a diameter of around 9.5 x 1017 km. The galaxy’s thickness depends on how near you are to the center, but it spans tens of thousands of light-years.


Our galaxy is part of a group called the Local Group. Since several of these galaxies are conspicuous in our sky, the names are usually known. The Milky Way collides with the most prominent member of the group, the Andromeda Galaxy or M31. NASA explains that the Milky Way is the second most significant component, and the third-largest is M33 (Triangular Galaxy). Due to its size and relatively near distance, Andromeda is considerably brighter in the night sky. This group has approximately 30 members.


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Since we are in the arms of the Milky Way, it seems like a belt of stars (or white light bands) across the sky of the Earth. A pair of binoculars or a telescope displays a blend of brighter regions and darker areas; the darker portions are dust, which obscures any light from behind it from stars, galaxies, and other brilliant objects. However, from the outside, scientists believe that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy barred — a universe that has a strip of stars in the center and the spiral form.


If you are searching for the galactic center, look towards Sagittarius, a constellation low in the summer sky for most northern dwellers. There is a vast radio source known as Sagittarius A* in the constellation. Using Chandra’s satellite telescope, Astronomers found why the supermassive black hole is relatively weak in X-rays: hot gas is being dragged into the nebula (99%).


Due to observation of global clusters in the galaxy, scientists calculated the total age of the Milky Way at 13.5 billion years — just 200 million years younger than the rest of the universe.


However, astronomers began to believe that various regions of the galaxy originated at multiple periods. For example, in 2012, Jason Kalirai of the Institute for Science of Space Telescopes nailed down the age of the inner halo of stars of the Milky Way: 11.5 billion years old. To achieve this measurement, they utilized white dwarfs, the burnt-out remains of sun-like stars.

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Artist’s impression of the structure of the Milky Way’s halo.
(Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))


Research from the Kalirai group suggests that the Milky Way produced the halo (containing globular star clusters and dwarf galaxies) and inner halo (whose stars were born as a consequence) and outer haloes in the following order (created when the Milky Way ate up nearby ancient dwarf galaxies).


While we have concentrated on the portions of the galaxy that you can see, most of its mass really consists of dark matter. NASA believes that the dark matter group is approximately 10 times as large as the visible stuff in the universe. (Dark matter is a type of stuff that may be felt with regular telescopic equipment, except because of its gravitational influence on objects like galaxies. When masses collect high enough, they may bend the light of other things.)


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