Facts about the Milky Way that will surprise you

(ORDO NEWS) — Our galaxy is just one of billions. However, even she is fraught with many secrets. Here are some facts about the Milky Way that you probably didn’t know.

The Milky Way holds many mysteries, some of which we still cannot unravel. But you don’t even know about them.

The shape and size of the Milky Way

Our Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light-years across and is a spiral galaxy. Improvements in telescopes have allowed astronomers to discern the basic shape and structure of some nearby galaxies even before researchers knew they were looking at galaxies.

But recreating the shape and structure of our own galactic home has been a slow and tedious process. To do this, scientists had to make catalogs of stars, map their positions in the sky and determine how far they are from Earth. Gradually, astronomers developed a complex picture of a spiral galaxy that today looks quite ordinary.

The place of the Sun in the Milky Way

For us on Earth, the Sun is indispensable. Without its light and heat, much of life on Earth would be impossible. But from a galactic perspective, the Sun is just one (rather common) star out of 200 billion.

The Sun orbits about 26,000 light-years from the Sagittarius A* black hole, roughly in the middle of the galactic disk. Moving at a speed of 828,000 km / h, the Sun makes a complete revolution around the galactic center in 230 million years. This means that the last time our planet was in the same place in the galaxy as it is today, it was inhabited by dinosaurs.

The Sun is at the edge of the Milky Way’s Orion Arm, one of two smaller spiral arms in the galaxy. In 2019, using data from the Gaia mission, astronomers discovered that the Sun moves in a wave of interstellar gas 9,000 light-years long, 400 light-years wide, and oscillates 500 light-years above and below the plane of the galactic disk.

How old is the Milky Way?

The evolution of the galaxy began when clouds of gas and dust began to collapse, shrinking under their own gravitational pull.

The first stars appeared from the collapsed clouds, the same ones that we see today in globular clusters. Soon a spherical halo appeared, followed by a flat galactic disk. The galaxy started small and grew as the force of gravity pulled material from outside. However, the evolution of the galaxy is still shrouded in mystery.

A discipline called galactic archeology is slowly unraveling some of the mysteries of life in the Milky Way. In many ways, we are getting new data thanks to the Gaia mission. While astronomers do not have enough data to judge the age of our galaxy, however, further analysis of the information received may shed light on this issue.

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