The Milky Way is an Expansive, Dynamic Galaxy

Did you know that the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei was the first to study the Milky Way in 1610? The Milky Way is our home, and there is much to learn about it.

The Milky Way is the galaxy where our home planet, Earth, is located. This giant galaxy has several spiral arms. The sun is in the Orion arm: this arm is the sky that we see every night. The arm to the left of the Orion arm is called the Perseus arm, while the arm to the right of the Orion arm is called the Sagittarius arm. In the middle of the galaxy, there is a rotating black hole. This black hole contains a million times more material than the sun!

Our galaxy is made up of tiny stars with different names. The Betelgeuse stars are aged red stars and are common in the galaxy’s central bulge, which is a group of stars in the center of the galaxy. The Orion Nebula star, also a part of the Milky Way is a giant cloud of gas and dust. It is nicknamed the “star factory” because lots of stars are made here. The Pleiades stars are open clusters, while the Omega Centauri stars are global clusters that are over a billion years old. Finally, the Eagle Nebula stars are clouds of gas and new stars that are only found in the galaxy's central bulge and spiral arms.

The sun is also an amazing part of our galaxy. It is a source of life for everyone on Earth. The sun is not in the center of the galaxy, however, as people have often assumed in the past. Instead, Galilei discovered that it is actually located two-thirds toward one edge of the Orion Arm. The sun also takes 226 million years to go around the galaxy once, as it rotates with the black hole.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is an amazing place. It is full of stars that you can gaze at and probably didn’t even know existed in the first place. This is just one example of why our galaxy needs to be explored more.

[Sources: Children’s Atlas of the Universe; Wikipedia; Solstation]

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