Our galaxy

Our Galaxy – Milky Way
The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System,
with the name describing the galaxy’s appearance from Earth;
a hazy band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars that
cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye (above).

The faint, hazy band of light that can be seen stretching right
across the night sky is the Milky Way.

  • with binoculars, the countless stars that make up the Milky way can be seen.
  • the Milky Way is the view of our Galaxy from Earth.
  • this galaxy is around 500 billions in space.
  • the galaxy is 100,00 light years across and 1,000 light years thick.
  • it is made up of 100 billion stars.
  • all the stars are arranged in a spiral with bulge in the middle.
  • the Sun is just one of the billions of stars on one arm of the spiral with a bulge in the middle.

Our sun is about 1/3 the distance from the center of the Milky Way galaxy to its outer edges.
It’s located in a smaller spiral arm, between two large arms, called the Orion Arm.


  • the Sun is just one of the billions of stars on one arm of the spiral.
  • the Milky Way is whirling rapidly, spinning the Sun and other stars around at 500,000 mph or 800,000 km/h.
  • once every 220 million years, the Sun travels around the Milky Way – a journey of 170,000 light years.
  • the huge bulge at the centre of the galaxy is about 20,000 light years across and 3,000 light years thick.
  • it only contains very old stars and little dust or gas.
  • there may be a huge black hole in very middle of the Milky Way.

Back to  Stars and Galaxies  page / next to  Local Group  page.

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