The Milky Way Galaxy is the galaxy that houses our Solar System. It is a collection of stars, gas, and matter that is bound together by gravity.
Our Milky Way Galaxy is nearly 100,000 light-years across and 1000-2000 light-years in thickness. Astronomers guess that it has, at the very least, 100 billion stars.
When was the Milky Way Formed?
The Milky Way was formed 13.5 billion years ago. Scientists guess that the halo formed within the first billion years of the galaxy. The disk would have formed much more slowly.
Astronomers are still exploring how the Milky Way formed.
How Old is the Milky Way?
The Milky Way Galaxy is projected to be 13.5 billion years old. Astronomers have approximated its age by looking at the ages of stars throughout the galaxy through examination of radiation and light.
The systems and stars within the galaxy range in age. The stars did not all form at once, and stars are still forming. Therefore, the Milky Way has both new stars and very old stars that formed during its creation.
Is the Milky Way Growing?
As our galaxy moves through space and undergoing natural astronomical processes, it continues to grow.
On the one hand, our spiral galaxy meets matter and bodies as it passes through space. It is likely that our galaxy consumes smaller galaxies or stellar matter it meets. Therefore, it is growing by constantly consuming stellar material in space.
On the other hand, our galaxy has plenty of material within it to create and construct new stars and planetary systems constantly. Most of these new star and system formations happen towards the center of the galaxy.
However, scientists have shown that the spiral arms are getting larger. They are projected to grow 500 meters per second. Therefore, the contents of the galaxy are growing as well as the size of it.
Is the Milky Way Moving?
The Milky Way Galaxy is moving, and it is moving on several different levels.
Just as the Earth rotates around the Sun, our entire Solar System revolves around the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. This revolution indicates that the material in the galaxy is moving around the galaxy’s center, which creates the spiral arms.
It takes the Solar System around 225 million years to completely revolve around the galaxy’s center. To complete this revolution, the Solar System moves at nearly 790,000 km/hour.
To create a larger picture, the Milky Way Galaxy itself also movies. Using Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation to guess that the galaxy is moving around 2.1 million km/hour.
The direction of our galaxy’s movement is dictated by other objects in space pushing and pulling with gravitational forces. Currently, the Milky Way Galaxy is traveling towards the Andromeda galaxy. Scientists predict that the galaxies will collide in about 4 billion years.
What Type of Galaxy is the Milky Way?
The Milky Way Galaxy is considered a spiral galaxy. Some astronomers believe that the Milky Way galaxy should be classified as a spiral galaxy with a central bar that is loosely formed. That means the center of the galaxy is a large bar, or grouping, of stars. This gives it the bulge.
As a spiral galaxy, our Milky Way has a large bulge at its center. This bulge is nearly 25,000 light-years in diameter.
There is also a thick disk and a thin disk that surrounds this bulge. Beyond the disks is a stellar halo, which contains globular clusters, which is a collection of stars that are bound to each other by gravity.
When looking at the galaxy, you will see that the galaxy has long arms that swirl, trailing the spin of the core. These spiral arms give the galaxy its classification. This is further proof that the galaxy is moving through space.
Interesting Facts about the Milky Way
- The bulge cannot be seen due to all the stars, gas, rocks, and materials surrounding it.
- The stars that compose the bulge are red and yellow, which are cooler stars.
- The center of our galaxy contains strong radio waves
- The center of the galaxy is called Sagittarius A
- The outer regions of the galaxy seem to carry lots of mass, and this invisible mass is believed to be dark matter
- The galaxy as streams on the outer layer, the streams are patches of material that have been stretched and left behind