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Milky Way Galaxy

Milky Way Illustration
Milky Way Illustration
Milky Way Illustration
Milky Way Illustration
1. Milky Way Galaxy: Side View
Schematic illustration of the Milky Way galaxy, showing the prominent spiral arms, the central galactic bulge, the location of the Sun, and selected X-ray sources. (labeled & unlabeled) (Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Related Field Guide: The Milky Way

Milky Way Illustration
Milky Way Illustration
2. Milky Way Galaxy: Face-on View
Schematic, face on illustration of the Milky Way galaxy, showing the prominent spiral arms, the central galactic bulge and the location of the Sun. (labeled & unlabeled) (Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Related Field Guide: The Milky Way

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3. Illustration of Solar System's Orbit
Our solar system, containing the Sun and the planets, is about 2/3 of the way out from the center of the Galaxy. The solar system travels in an orbit around the center of the Galaxy, at a velocity (i.e. speed) of a few hundred kilometers per second, completing one orbit around the center of the Milky Way about every 230 million years. In addition, the solar system is moving at about 20 kilometers per second with respect to the nearby stars. There is also a small amount of motion with respect to the plane of the Galaxy. Currently, the solar system is heading outwards but the gravitational pull of the stars in the galactic plane will eventually cause it to stop and then move back towards the galactic plane.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Related Field Guide: The Milky Way

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4. Milky Way Halo
Schematic of Milky Way showing the dark matter halo (gray), globular clusters (red circles), the thick disk (dark purple), the stellar disk (white), the stellar bulge (red-orange), and the central black hole. The stellar disk is about 100,000 light years in diameter. The dark halo extends to a diameter of at least 600,000 light years.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Related Field Guide: The Milky Way

Click for large jpg
Click for large jpg
5. Milky Way Local Group
The Milky Way is not an island universe, but a member of a small cluster of galaxies called the Local Group. The Local Group contains about 3 dozen known galaxies, clumped in two subgroups around two massive spiral galaxies --the Milky Way, and the Andromeda Galaxy. In several billion years it is possible that the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide and merge to form one huge elliptical galaxy.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Related Field Guide: The Milky Way

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Click for large jpg
Click for large jpg
6. The Milky Way, LMC & SMC
This illustration shows an approximation of where the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two satellite galaxies, are with respect to the Milky Way. The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is about 160,000 light years from Earth and spans about 70,000 light years. At a distance of around 210,000 light years, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is about 15,000 light years across.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Related Field Guide: The Milky Way

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Milky Way Illustration
Milky Way Illustration
7. Virtual Voyage through the Milky Way
Zoom through the Milky Way and past the Sun.
View Animation
(Illustration: NASA/CXC/A.Hobart)

Related Field Guide: The Milky Way

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