In our previous article on Milky Way we learned some really fascinating facts about the galaxy but we are not done yet. There are many more interesting facts that will force your jaws to drop. We will speak about those facts in our second and last part of 20 interesting Milky Way facts article. You ready? We will be picking up where we left last time.
Interesting Milky Way Facts: 1-10
1. Last thing we spoke in the previous article was how long it takes for the Solar System to travel around the galactic core of Milky Way. It is 250 million years! Essentially, the Sun travels once around the galactic core in 250 million years and hence, the Earth also takes the same time. This one complete rotation made by Earth around galactic core is known as Galactic Year.
So, 1 Earth Year = 365 days and 1 Galactic Year = 250 million years.
2. While we have the habit of saying that Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, it is not absolutely true. In fact, Milky Way is a Barred Spiral Galaxy. This type of galaxy has a central bar-like structure which is made of stars.
3. Apart from the central bulge that we spoke of in the last article’s point #16, the rest of the galaxy is pretty much flat like a disk.
4. All images of Milky Way that we have seen till date are either images of other galaxies or are beautifully created artistic impressions. This is because, our solar system is 27,000 light years from the center of galactic core and we do not have sufficient technology to get high enough in space to capture the whole galaxy in one single frame. We don’t have a real image of our own galaxy.
5. Having said that, we need to say that all galaxies that we have photographed till date are hundreds of thousands and millions of light years away from us. This makes them far enough to be captured in a single frame.
6. Our galaxy, though not the most massive one out there in space, is incredibly big. Scientists estimate that Milky Way is at least 100,000 to 120,000 light years in diameter. Some think that it is 150,000 to 180,000 light years in diameters.
7. Even if we take that the Milky Way is 100,000 light years in diameter, do you have any idea of how many kilometers it makes? Let us try:
1 light year = 300,000 x 60 x 60 x 24 x 365 = 300000 x 3153600 = 9,460,800,000,000 kilometers.
So, 100,000 light years = 946,080,000,000,000,000 kilometers = 946,080 trillion kilometers.
8. Scientists believe that our Milky Way galaxy is one of the oldest galaxies in known universe and was created some 13.6 billion years ago. Our universe was formed, according to scientists, some 13.798 billion years ago – give or take 0.037 billion years.
9. Okay, in our last article we said that our Milky Way galaxy is a part of Local Supercluster which stretches out over a distance of 10 million light years. Funny thing, this Local Supercluster is just a small part of an even bigger group known as Virgo Supercluster.
10. This Virgo Supercluster which fans out to a distance of 100 million light years and is composed of at least 100 galaxy groups like the Local Supercluster. Funny again, the Virgo Supercluster is just a small part of Laniakea Supercluster, which spreads out with a diameter as big as 520 million light years and has at least 100,000 galaxies.