Tuesday, October 30, 2012

milky way's neighborhood

here is a lovely map of the close vicinity of our milky way galaxy, recently published in nature.  

click on this link to get a full-size version of the image and explore all the components.

our galaxy is a flat disk, consisting of spiral arms with billions of stars, gas, dust and some other stellar remnants.  from the southern hemisphere, you can see the dwarf galaxies, the magellanic clouds, with your naked eye on a clear night.   eventually these galaxies will interact more strongly with the milky way and become part of it.  this is what is happening to the sagittarius dwarf galaxy as revealed by observations of the sagittarius star stream.

all of this lives inside a huge spherical halo of dark matter.

nice neighborhood!

1 comment:

Sakib said...

Considering our system isn't active or peculiar, we do live in an awesome place!

Also new research suggests that the Magellanic Clouds are not true companions of the Milky Way but might simply be passing through.