The galaxy is indeed mysterious and has perplexed many minds since time immemorial. Investigate this piece to get to know some fascinating facts about our galaxy.

Galaxy Facts

From the big bang theory to the latest discoveries, many have tried to seek answers for the various unanswered questions about the existence and functioning of our universe. There are many things waiting to be discovered and explained which science tries to search, study and comprehend. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies that form the part of the observable universe, the ‘Milky Way’ being one of them. The Milky Way is the galaxy in which our solar system is located. It is a 'spiral barred galaxy' that is the part of the ‘local group’ of galaxies. The Milky Way is like a mother’s womb and houses billions of stars and our solar system. It is fascinating to learn that our small planet also forms a part of this immeasurable galaxy. The section that follows will provide you with some very interesting facts about our galaxy. Read on to know more about them.

Interesting Facts About The Galaxy
  • When seen during the nights from Earth, our galaxy appears as a blurry and cloudy cluster of white lights in the sky, dividing the night sky into two almost equal hemispheres.
  • The galaxy accounts for about 100,000 light years in diameter and approximately 1000 light years in its thickness. It holds in itself about 200 to 400 billion stars. No one knows the exact age of our galaxy. The age of the oldest star in the galaxy is said to be an astounding 13.2 billion years!
  • Although we know that it is due to the effects of gravity, there lies a humongous black hole at the centre of our galaxy. Stars that are in close proximity to the centre, and a few stars that are a dozen billion kilometres away from it, orbit the centre at high speeds. They speed at phenomenal speeds of thousands of kilometres per second!
  • The structure of the galaxy is such that its centre is pointed in and appears brightest towards the constellation of Sagittarius. It then shoots through the other stars such as the Scorpio, Ara, Norma, Canis Major, Orion, Gemini, and Taurus and back to Sagittarius through Scutum.
  • The Milky Way, although very beautiful to behold is known to be very wild and beastly too. It feeds on several other galaxies by ripping them into either long or curving arcs of stars that orbit around the centre of the Milky Way. This eventually leads to the merging of other galaxies with ours, and thus, the Milky Way emerges as a much larger galaxy.
  • The Sun, being the biggest star central to our solar system, traverses through the space in the Milky Way. The Sun’s cosmic motion is pointed in the direction of star Vega and is tilted at an angle of 60 sky degrees to the galactic centre. The Sun oscillates up and down relative to the galactic and astronomical plane. The solar system takes 225 to 250 million years to orbit around the galaxy and this time period is known as the ‘Galactic Year’.
  • There are many other galaxies which are known as the local group and thus, the Milky Way is not the only one. The Milky Way accounts for being the heaviest of all and the ‘Andromeda galaxy’ accounts for the next heaviest one. The ‘Triangulum galaxy’ is also known to be spiral, but not such a heavy one. Overall, there are almost three dozen galaxies in the local group along with many dwarf galaxies that are mostly faint and very difficult to detect.
  • Our beautiful galaxy holds about two hundred billion stars in itself. While we can see thousands of stars in the night, we actually are seeing the tiny fractions of these stars that are spread out in the galaxy. The most distant stars that we can see are actually a thousand light years away!

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