Did you know that the numerous stars that you see across the sky plus billions of others make up just one galaxy? It’s impossible to know every nook and cranny of your city or state, and the same holds true when it comes to our galaxy.
The Milky Way galaxy houses our own solar system among many other entities. It’s spiral-shaped and full of dark matter, supernovas, nebulas, and billions of stars. There are still many aspects of the galaxy which remain mysterious even to the most experienced or learned scientists. The mysteries of the stars and certain phenomena in space spark curiosity in nearly everyone. Below are five things that you always wanted to know about the Milky Way.
1. It has a black hole at the center
During the billions of years since the oldest star in the galaxy was formed, massive matter has been deposited in the center of our galaxy. The black hole, known as Sagittarius, is quadrillions of kilometers away from Earth and is a source of intense radio frequency waves. Amazingly, its weight is estimated to be equal to 4.1 million suns. However, the object at the center of the galaxy has never been seen directly, since it’s hidden by large masses of dust and gas. The black hole feeds on the nearby matter, thus emitting powerful jets of radiation.
2. It won’t last forever
Our Milky Way galaxy is headed to a collision with its nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. However, don’t let this fact spike your anxiety, since it’s not going to happen anytime soon. The collision will happen in about four billion years, considering that the two galaxies are spiraling towards each other at an average speed of about 200 km/s. the mutual gravity of the galaxies shoots out long tendrils of stars and gas.
3. It’s unimaginably big
It’s a fact that all of the stars you see in the sky are a part of the Milky Way galaxy, but it happens to be just a tiny fraction of all of the objects that make up our galaxy. The Milky Way consists of about 400 billion stars, including the sun, and its diameter is estimated to be 100,000 light-years. Our own solar system travels through space at around 500,000 mph yet it would take about 250 million years to makes one revolution around the Milky Way.
4. It’s a source of hot air
Very hot gases and particles are blown straight from the center of the galaxy by strong winds traveling at about two million miles per hour. The source of the gases is believed to be the formation and death of stars at the area around the black hole. The clouds of the gases are known as the Fermi-bubbles.
5. It’s not the only galaxy in the universe
Since the discovery of astronomy in ancient Greece, scientists believed that our solar system marked the end of the universe. However observations in the early years of the twentieth century clearly showed that our galaxy is just one of the hundreds of billions of galaxies present in the universe. The actual estimate is that more than two trillion galaxies make up the universe.