Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Milkw Way Galaxy

Our Milky Way Galaxy is a spiral galaxy. Our solar system lies in a sleepy little section about half way out. Like any spiral galaxy, we whirl around the center that most scientists believes contains a supermassive black hole and it’s called Sagittarius A.
What lies just outside our Milky Way galaxy? There are about 200 ball-shaped globular cluster of stars each one containing around a million or so stars.
Together with about 40 other galaxies we make up what is called the Local Group that spans 10 mega-light years. The Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies are by far the two biggest in the Local Group.
The other galaxies in the Local Group are much smaller and include two galaxies that can be seen with the naked eye from countries south of the equator. The galaxies are called the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
Did You Know: Our Milky Way galaxy is warped. It has a central bulge caused from the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (see above paragraph) pulling on our Dark Matter like a tug of war.
Fun Facts: The Milky Way has a halo of dark matter that makes up over 90% of its mass. And we don’t have the faintest idea what dark matter is. We just know that it’s there. Hence, the name Dark Matter.
The Milky Way is cannibalistic and has been devouring neighboring smaller dwarf galaxies.

Part Milky Way Viewed From Earth
It’s about as old as the universe itself, about 13.6 billion years old.
Our solar system makes up an extremely tiny part of the Milky Way. If you imagine our solar system were the size of a US quarter, the entire Milky Way would be almost half the size of the United States!
It’s part of the Virgo Supercluster, a grouping of galaxies within 150 million light years across.
Bonus Fun Fact: The Milky Way Galaxy rotates clockwise at a speed of 190 miles a second. This means that the space you were sitting in one second ago, is now 330 miles away from you. At this speed it takes the Milky Way 200 million years to rotate once.
For more on galaxies, check out my G is for Galaxies post from last week!


  1. Thanks for the info. Stephen ... that was really interesting. especially your analogies.....

  2. I did one of my Thursday what if questions on dark matter. It's fun to contemplate...

    Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

  3. Hi Stephen ... there is so much that is so fascinating about our galaxy .. incredible amount of information you're giving us .. I'm just glad we're in the sleepy section .. without any explosive forces going on round about us .. Cheers Hilary

  4. That's a long time for one rotatation.

  5. Enhanced my knowledge about Milky Way,

    I have followed your blog and I am blogging at The Other Side for A to Z challenge. I hope you will also follow my blog

  6. I'm surprised you didn't mention its chocolaty coating and creamy, nougat center.

    A to Z challenge member visiting from <a href="http://www.richardskeller.com/richie-on-writing.html>Richie on Writing</a>

  7. Mmmm I thought I smelled a Milky Way somewhere... lol. Great learning experience.

    I was out for a virtual walk today, so I thought let's visit the great A to Z team!

    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2014]

    Old is the New Cool...

  8. I love your posts! I'm glad our galaxy is eating others rather than being eaten.

  9. I like that analogy of a quarter to the whole States. Puts things very much in perspective. Non US readers may not realise a quarter is a 25 cent piece. (when I first came to Canada I had no idea what quarters, nickels and dimes were). Always enjoy your posts, even if we do keep moving everything moves with us thank goodness, can you imagine the chaos otherwise.

  10. Hey Stephen! It blows my mind to try and fathom the distances involved with this. Just like looking up into the night sky in the desert. There is too much up there to grock.