Milky Way

Milky Way Amazing Facts

35 Amazing and Interesting Facts about Milky Way | Amazing Facts 4U 

  1. The Milky Way is a galaxy i.e. a huge group of stars, gas, dust, and other matter held together in space by their mutual gravitational pull. The Milky Way is just one of billions of galaxies in the universe in which lies solar system.
  2. Amazingly until 1924, astronomers believed the Milky Way was the entire universe and thre was no other galaxy.
  3. Scientists believe that the Milky Way contains up to 400 billion stars. The largest galaxy known, IC 1101, has over 100 trillion stars. Smaller galaxies, like the Large Magellanic Cloud, have about 10 billion stars.
  4. Scientists call the Milky Way and about 40 other galaxies nearby the Local Group which is held together by mutual gravitational attraction. The Local Group belongs to an even larger group of galaxies called the Local Supercluster which is about 100 million light years across.
  5. Besides the Andromeda galaxy, two other galaxies are close to the Milky Way: the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is about 170,000 light-years away and the Small Magellanic Cloud, which is about 200,000 light-years away.
  6. The Romans called our galaxy the Milky Road because it reminded them of milk. The Greeks called it the Milky Circle. In fact, the word “galaxy” is from the Greek word for milk.
  7. The ancient Greek philosopher Democritus, who lived from about 460 to 370 B.C., was the first person to suggest that the Milky Way is made of stars. Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) was the first to identify and resolve the band of light as many individual stars with his telescope in 1610.
  8. Visible light, the light we can see, is only one form of energy given off by stars and other objects in the Milky Way. Other types of energy emitted are infrared light, radio waves, gamma rays, dark matter, and X-rays.
  9. Amazing fact is that when we see the Milky Way at night, we are visualizing only about 0.0000025% of it’s hundreds of billions of stars.
  10. The Milky Way has a halo of dark matter that makes up over 90% of its mass. What this means is that all we can see, even with telescopes, is less than 10% of the mass of our galaxy.
  11. At the very center of the Milky Way is a black hole, which has been named Sagittarius A which is believed to weigh as much as 4 million of our suns put together.
  12. Edwin Hubble (1889–1953) is credited with discovering the shape and scope of the Milky Way.
  13. The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy having bar shaped center that has curved arms that spin out from its center. It is 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter. The central bulge of the Milky Way is about 12,000 light-years thick.
  14. Largest galaxy called Hercules A, is 1.5 million light years in diameter i.e.  about 15 times larger than Milky way.
  15. The center of the Milky Way has mostly old stars while the spiral arms contains newer stars.
  16. The most stars a person can see from any point on Earth in Milky Way is about 2,500. We can only see out about 6,000 light years into the disk of our own galaxy in the visible spectrum.
  17. Any stars that you can see in the night sky without the aid of a telescope are part of the Milky Way.
  18. The center of the Milky Way cannot be seen because it is blocked by a lot of gas and dust. Infrared light can pass through the dust making infrared telescopes very valuable tools in mapping and studying the galaxy.
  19. It would take a spaceship thousands of years traveling at the speed of light to get far enough to capture a picture of the entire galaxy. Every picture of the Milky Way that we have is either a picture of another galaxy or an artist’s interpretation.
  20. The sun, Earth, and the rest of the solar system are located about 27,000 light years away from the Milky Way’s Galactic Center, on the inner edge of a minor arm of the galaxy, named the Orion Arm.
  21. Our solar system orbits the center of the galaxy at the speed of 514,000 miles per hour. At this speed one could circumnavigate Earth’s equator in 2 minutes and 54 seconds. It takes about 250 million years for the solar system to go just once around the galaxy, or to complete one galactic year.
  22. The sun and our solar system have orbited the galaxy 16 times since our solar system was born about 4.6 billion years ago. It has made 1/1250 of a revolution since the origin of humans.
  23. Sun is expected to last another  16 more Galactic years before it runs out of steam!
  24. The orbital speed of the solar system around the center of the Milky Way galaxy is about 220 km/s, or 0.073% of the speed light. It takes about 1,400 years for the solar system to travel 1 light-year.
  25. Earth’s closest star in the Milky Way, Proxima Centauri, is more than 4 light years away (a light-year is about 5.9 trillion miles, about 10 trillion kilometers). Proxima is Latin for “close.”
  26. The Milky Way rotates at a speed of 168 miles per second. So, the actual place in space where you were an hour ago is now roughly 600,000 miles away.
  27. If Earth orbited the sun at the same speed that stars orbit the center of the Milky Way, our planet would travel around the sun in only 3 days instead of 365.
  28. If our solar system were the size of a U.S. quarter, the sun would be a piece of dust and the Milky Way would be about the size of the United States.
  29. The oldest known star in the Milky Way is at least 13.6 billion years old called  HE1523 which was most likely formed shortly after the Big Bang.
  30. Stars must reach speeds 1 million mph faster than the 600,000 mph at which objects already speed around the Milky Way to leave the galaxy. Astronomers have discovered 18 such giant blue stars being ejected out of our galaxy.
  31. Astronomers estimate that seven new stars form in the Milky Way each year. They form inside huge clouds of dust and gas. In Milky Way , about twice a century, a large star bursts into a supernova.
  32. Astronomers discovered that the Milky Way has already consumed several smaller galaxies. Even now, the Milky Way is consuming two nearby dwarf galaxies.
  33. The space between planets in the solar system is relatively dense because of the particles in the solar wind, though the density is much lower than the air on Earth, at about 10 million atoms per cubic meter on average. The interstellar medium in the Milky Way is thinner at about 10,000 atoms per cubic meter. The matter in the space between galaxies has the lowest density in the universe, at 1 atom per cubic meter.
  34. Right now, the Milky Way and neighboring spiral galaxy called Andromeda are moving toward each other at about 75 miles (120 kilometers) per second. The Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies will some day collide in about 3.75 billion years.
  35. Milky Way contains the cloud Sagittarius B2 which is enormous containing 10 billion, billion, billion liters of alcohol in the form of ethyl formate.

By Amazing Facts 4U Team

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