Here’s a little science lesson that might stir up some nostalgia – our planet, the Earth, exists within a galaxy called the Milky Way. It’s called the Milky Way because it is looks like a hazy, milky path littered with stars and planets. All you have to do is to look at the Milky Way in the night sky from a remote location with no light, and you’ll understand why it was given such a name.
We’ve all heard about the Milky Way and even studied a thing or two about it in school. However, there’s a lot more to the Milky Way than they cared to teach us back then. In fact, here are a few Milky Way facts that you’ve never come across.
It has a black hole in the middle
Right at the center of the Milky Way exists what can be described as a supermassive black hole. Astronomers and scientists proved the existence of this black hole after observing that stars closer to the galaxy’s center were moving around their orbits at extreme speed. In fact, according to calculations, whatever was making those stars move was able to do so because it had four million times more mass than the sun.
Only a black hole boasts that kind of mass.
Now, that might sound scary, but we aren’t being pulled toward this black hole. In fact, its mass is quite typical for most black holes. In comparison, the universe is around 200 billion solar masses strong. So, the black hole is puny in comparison. More importantly, it’s located about 250,000,000,000,000,000 kilometers away.
It’s different and, yet, the same
The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy and isn’t too different from other spiral galaxies in the universe. So it’s a straightforward galaxy at the end of the day. However, it’s also unlike any other galaxy. To begin with, it’s massive compared to most other spiral galaxies. More importantly, it’s the only galaxy we know of that holds intelligent life. Intelligent might sound exaggerated, but considering we’re the only known inhabited planet, it’s a fair point.
There are no photos of the Milky Way
Believe it or not, we actually don’t have pictures of the Milky Way from the outside. So, whatever you’ve seen so far is either computer generated or drawn by hand. The reason we don’t have a picture of our own galaxy is that it’s just too big. As you already know, we exist within the galaxy. So, in order to take a picture, we’d have to get out of the galaxy and travel several light years away to a decent vantage point, from where we would be able to click a proper picture.
To put it simply, it’s currently impossible to achieve. However, if we ever manage to make interstellar travel possible, we might just be able to finally get that picture.
It’s on a crash course with Andromeda
Our galaxy is destined to collide with the Andromeda Galaxy. However, this will supposedly happen about five million years from now. So, you have a few billion years to worry about the issue. However, our technology might be so evolved at that point in time that we may simply be able to shift to another galaxy.