The Milky Way Galaxy






The halo, which is a spherical cloud surrounding the disk, contains only

about 2% as many stars as the disk.

It contains  old and cool stars, since

it has little gas and dust.


Milky Way - NASA Image


The Milky Way is a collection of hundreds of billions of stars traveling through the Universe together like a giant cloud

 floating across the sky.

Our own star is the Sun. It is just one among the 750 billion to one trillion stars that astronomers say compose the

Milky Way galaxy.



Our Solar System's Location in the Milky Way Galaxy

The sun is about 26,000 light-years from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is about 80,000 to 120,000 light-years across (and less than 7,000 light-years thick). We are located on on one of its spiral arms, out towards the edge. It takes the sun (and our solar system) roughly 200-250 million years to orbit once around the Milky Way. In this orbit, we (and the rest of the Solar System) are traveling at a velocity of about 155 miles/sec (250 km/sec). 

To reach the center of the Milky Way Galaxy starting from the Earth, aim toward the constellation Sagittarius.

Since we're inside the Milky Way Galaxy and we've never sent a spacecraft outside our Galaxy, we have no photographs of the Milky Way Galaxy. Radio telescope data does, however, let us know a lot about it.

The Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light years in diameter

Size of the Milky Way

The disk of the Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light years in diameter (one light year is about 9.5 x 1015 meters), but only about 1000 light years thick.

Our Galaxy contains about 200 billion stars. Most of the stars are located in the disk of our galaxy, which is the site of most of the star formation because it contains lots
of gas and dust.

Astronomers believe they see an extraordinarily powerful object — a black hole — at the center of the Milky Way.






Earth-centered Ecliptic coordinates as seen from outside the celestial sphere. Ecliptic longitude (red) is measured along the ecliptic from the vernal equinox. Ecliptic latitude (yellow) is measured perpendicular to the ecliptic. A full globe is shown here, although high-latitude coordinates are seldom seen except for certain comets

and asteroids.






Where is the ecliptic in relation to the Milky Way?

The equator (or plane) of the Milky Way is tilted by about 60ş to the plane of the ecliptic, the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the sun. 

The plane of the Earth’s orbit around the sun is called the ecliptic. The plane of the ecliptic projected onto the stellar sphere marks the sun’s annual path in front of the background stars. Although the sun appears to move eastward through the stars at about one degree per day, this apparent motion is really a reflection of the Earth orbiting the sun.

What is the ecliptic?

The ecliptic is an important reference and is often highlighted on sky charts. Because the planets of the solar system circle the sun on nearly the same plane that the Earth circles the sun, the planets are always found on or close to the ecliptic. The plane of the moon’s orbit around Earth is only somewhat askew to the plane of the ecliptic, so the moon is always found on or near the ecliptic, too. When the

 new moon aligns with the ecliptic, we have a total eclipse of the sun. When the full moon aligns with the ecliptic, we have a total lunar eclipse.

Where is the ecliptic in relation to the Milky Way?

The equator (or plane) of the Milky Way galaxy is tilted by about 60o to the plane of the ecliptic. Quite 

by coincidence, the ecliptic intersects the galactic equator on or near the June and December solstices. But does that mean the Earth literally crosses the plane of the Milky Way’s disk at these times? The answer is no!
… ..

Ecliptic system

Ecliptic Coordinate System

The ecliptic system was the principal coordinate system for ancient astronomy and is still useful for computing the apparent motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets.

The ecliptic system describes the planets' orbital movement around the sun, and centers on the barycenter of the solar system (i.e. very close to the sun). The fundamental plane is the plane of the Earth's orbit, called the ecliptic plane. The system is primarily used for computing the positions of

planets and other solar system bodies, as well as defining their orbital elements.


The ecliptic coordinate system is a celestial coordinate system commonly used for representing the positions and orbits of Solar System objects. Because most planets (except Mercury), and many small solar system bodies have orbits with small inclinations to the ecliptic, it is convenient to use it as the fundamental plane. The system's origin can be either the center of the Sun or the center of the Earth, its primary direction is towards the vernal equinox, and it has a right-handed convention. It may be implemented in spherical or rectangular coordinates


The celestial equator and the ecliptic are slowly moving due to perturbing forces on the Earth, therefore the orientation of the primary direction, their intersection at the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox, is

not quite fixed. A slow motion of Earth's axis, precession, causes a slow, continuous turning of the coordinate system westward about the poles of the ecliptic, completing one circuit in about 26,000 years. Superimposed on this is a smaller motion of the ecliptic, and a small oscillation of the Earth's axis, nutation. ...




NGC 4414, a typical spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices, is about 55,000 light-years in diameter and approximately 60 million light-years

away from Earth.





A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants, an interstellar medium of gas and dust, and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias (γαλαξίας), literally "milky", a reference to the Milky Way galaxy. Examples of galaxies range from dwarfs with as few as ten million (107) stars to giants with a hundred trillion (1014) stars,each orbiting their galaxy's own center of mass.

Galaxies contain varying amounts of star systems, star clusters and types of interstellar clouds. In between these objects is a sparse interstellar medium of gas, dust, and cosmic rays. Dark matter appears to account for around 90% of the mass of most galaxies. Observational data suggests that supermassive black holes may exist at the center of many, if not all, galaxies. They are thought to be the primary driver of active galactic nuclei found at the core of some galaxies. The Milky Way galaxy appears to harbor at least one such object.

Galaxies have been historically categorized according to their apparent shape; usually referred to as their visual morphology. A common form is the elliptical galaxy, which has an ellipse-shaped light profile. Spiral galaxies are disk-shaped with dusty, curving arms. Those with irregular or unusual shapes are known as irregular galaxies and typically originate from disruption by the gravitational pull of neighboring galaxies. Such interactions between nearby galaxies, which may ultimately result in a merging, sometimes induce significantly increased incidents of star formation leading starburst galaxies. Smaller galaxies lacking a coherent structure are referred to as irregular galaxies.

There are probably more than 170 billion (1.7 × 1011) galaxies in the observable universe.[8][9] Most are 1,000 to 100,000 parsecs in diameter and usually separated by distances on the order of millions of parsecs (or megaparsecs). Intergalactic space (the space between galaxies) is filled with a tenuous gas of an average density less than one atom per cubic meter. The majority of galaxies are organized into a hierarchy of associations known as groups and clusters, which, in turn usually form larger superclusters. At the largest scale, these associations are generally arranged into sheets and filaments, which are surrounded by immense voids.

10 Most Fascinating Galaxies of our Universe – (Text & Photos)

Welcome to the Hubble Universe: Galaxies & Nebula: A Cosmic Journey Through the Universe ( 14 mins) !!!!!!!

- Nebula & Galaxies: A Cosmic Journey Through the Universe. A documentary film by Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D. 


Milky Way Ring






Inside the Milky Way - The Definitive Guide to the Milky Way Galaxy

  ( 1 H: 31 mins)

Inside of the Milky Way - By Natgeo

The secrets of our home galaxy revealed with all new state oif the art computer recreations from JPL and NASA. 


National Geographic - Inside the Milky Way (2010) Bluray 1080p

( 1Hr: 36 mins)  - ( Not Availabe??)

From Stars being born, and super-massive black holes to Carl Sagan,
or how to center yourself in the universe the CGI way

Since time immemorial, humanity has been transfixed by the Celeste, trying to order the heavens, read the sky, and understand our place in the universe — a place nested within the Milky Way galaxy, which contains our Solar System. But what exactly is the Milky Way, how did it come to be, and where is it going? That’s exactly what the fascinating National Geographic documentary Inside the Milky Way explores, using bleeding-edge technology to construct a 3D CGI model of our galaxy and simulate everything from the formation of super-massive black holes to how stars are born and die.

+++ many many phtos…





Infrared picture of the center of the Milky Way galaxy


In this NASA photo of our Milky Way galaxy, the dark patches in front of the brighter background are opaque clouds of clumped dust grains known as dark nebulae.



Our own star is the Sun. It is just one among the 750 billion to one trillion stars that astronomers say compose the Milky Way galaxy.

Our Milky Way is about 100,000 light years in diameter. Radioastronomy shows it to be a spiral shaped galaxy.




This enormous section of the Milky Way Galaxy is a mosaic of images from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. - The Infrared Processing and Analysis Center is a NASA data center managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.







COBE Dipole: Speeding Through the Universe




The Eternal Moving Universe!!!


Our Earth is not at rest. The Earth moves around the Sun. The Sun orbits the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. The Milky Way Galaxy orbits in the Local Group. The Local Group falls toward the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. But these speeds are less than the speed that all of these objects together move relative to the microwave background. In the above all-sky map, radiation in the Earth's direction of motion appears "blueshifted" and hence hotter, while radiation on the opposite side of the sky is "redshifted" and colder.


 The map indicates that the Local Group moves at about 600 kilometers per second relative to this primordial radiation. This high speed was initially unexpected and its magnitude is still unexplained. Why are we moving so fast? What is out there?



Virgo Cluster Galaxies




What is the estimated rate of speed that our Sun is moving in relation to the center of the milky Way galaxy?

And is the whole Milky Way galaxy moving also?

The Answer

The Sun orbits the center of the Milky Way at about 250 km/second and it takes about 220 million years to complete an orbit.

The Milky Way is part of a group of galaxies known as the Local Group. All of these are moving relative to each other due to their gravitational interaction with speeds of around 100 km/s or less. Calculating the velocities of the galaxies in the Local Group is difficult because there are probably members that have not yet been discovered because they are too dim or are obscured by the plane of the Milky Way. The radial velocities relative to the Milky Way are found by measuring Doppler shifts in the spectra of stars in the galaxies. You will find more information at 

The Local Group is also moving at about 600 km/second relative to the cosmic microwave background.




Bursts of Gamma Rays from Center of Galaxy




NASA – Center of the Milky Way Galaxy - A Galactic Center Mystery

February 21, 2002: In the most suspenseful detective stories, the mystery deepens even as the plot reveals more clues. So has it been in real life for astrophysicists investigating the center of our Milky Way galaxy. They hoped that NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory would reveal a long-suspected black hole there -- and indeed it did. But Chandra's revelations have raised new questions that baffle scientists perhaps even more than before.

A Galactic Center Mystery – Fermi Lab Map ( 2 mins)

- Galactic “Fermi Bubbles” - The Milky Way's Mysterious Gamma Ray Lobes

Fermi telescope discovers new Giant Structure in our Galaxy (w/ Video)

From end to end, the newly discovered gamma-ray bubbles extend 50,000 light-years, or roughly half of the Milky Way's diameter, as shown in this illustration. Hints of the bubbles' edges were first observed in X-rays (blue) by ROSAT, a Germany-led mission operating in the 1990s. The gamma rays mapped by Fermi (magenta) extend much farther from the galaxy's plane. 

Mysterious Gamma-Ray Bubbles in the Milky Way Part 1 ( 14 mins)

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has produced a string of stunning discoveries in its first two years, opening our eyes to the high-energy Universe as never before. Video presentation by Douglas Finkbeiner, Harvard

Mysterious Gamma-Ray Bubbles in the Milky Way Part 2 ( 14 mins) 






Spitzer + Herschel: The Galactic Center Revisited [720p] – Frequency




The Galactic Center Revisited (Gallery Explorer) ( 3 mins)

Hiding behind the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius is the center of our own Milky Way galaxy,

 over 25,000 light years away. This patch of sky is mostly dark in visible light, shrouded by dust clouds that lie between us and the Galactic center. But the infrared vision of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope sees through the dust showing us this strange and tumultuous region.




A gas cloud with several times the mass

of the Earth is accelerating towards a Supermassive black hole at the centre

of the Milky Way.





Black Holes



A black hole is a region of spacetime where gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that marks the point of no return. It is called "black" because it absorbs all the light that hits the horizon, reflecting nothing, just like a perfect black body in thermodynamics. Quantum mechanics predicts that black holes emit radiation like a black body with a finite temperature. This temperature is inversely proportional to the mass of the black hole, making it difficult to observe this radiation for black holes of stellar mass or greater.

Objects whose gravity field is too strong for light to escape were first considered in the
18th century by John Michell and Pierre-Simon Laplace. The first modern solution of general relativity that would characterize a black hole was found by Karl Schwarzschild in 1916, although its interpretation as a region of space from which nothing can escape was not fully appreciated for another four decades. Long considered a mathematical curiosity, it was during the 1960s that theoretical work showed black holes were a generic prediction of general relativity. The discovery of neutron stars sparked interest in gravitationally collapsed compact objects as a possible astrophysical reality.

Black holes of stellar mass are expected to form when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. After a black hole has formed it can continue to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings. By absorbing other stars and merging with other black holes, supermassive black holes of millions of solar masses may form. There is general consensus that supermassive black holes exist in the centers of most galaxies.

Despite its invisible interior, the presence of a black hole can be inferred through its interaction with other matter and with light and other electromagnetic radiation. Matter falling onto a black hole can form an accretion disk heated by friction, forming some of the brightest objects in the universe. If there are other stars orbiting a black hole, their orbit can be used to determine its mass and location. These data can be used to exclude possible alternatives (such as neutron stars). In this way, astronomers have identified numerous stellar black hole candidates in binary systems, and established that the core of our Milky Way galaxy contains a supermassive black hole of about 4.3 million solar masses.



Supermassive black hole


A supermassive black hole (SMBH) is the largest type of black hole, on the order of hundreds of thousands to billions of solar masses. Most—and possibly all—galaxies are inferred to contain a supermassive black hole at their centers. In the case of the Milky Way, the SMBH is believed to correspond with the location of Sagittarius A*.

Supermassive black holes have properties which distinguish them from lower-mass classifications. First, the average density of a supermassive black hole (defined as the mass of the black hole divided by the volume within its Schwarzschild radius) can be less than the density of water in the case of some supermassive black holes.[5] This is because the Schwarzschild radius is directly proportional to mass, while density is inversely proportional to the volume. Since the volume of a spherical object (such as the event horizon of a non-rotating black hole) is directly proportional to the cube of the radius, the density of a black hole is inversely proportional to the square of the mass, and thus higher mass black holes have lower average density. Also, the tidal forces in the vicinity of the event horizon are significantly weaker. Since the central singularity is so far away from the horizon, a hypothetical astronaut traveling towards the black hole center would not experience significant tidal force until very deep into the black hole.



Milky Way's Giant Black Hole Spits Out Its Food


The colossal black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy is a messy eater. Of all the gas that falls toward the black hole, 99 percent gets spewed back out into space, new observations show, making the black hole akin to a toddler whose food ends up mostly on the floor, rather than his mouth.

The Milky Way's supermassive black hole, called Sagittarius A* (pronounced "Sagittarius A-star"), contains the mass of 4 million suns. Yet it's not getting much larger, according to the new findings, which help explain why the object is surprisingly dim.

Although black holes themselves can't be seen, their immediate vicinities usually emit strong radiation from the material falling into them. Not so for Sgr A*, though, which has prompted a rash of competing theories trying to explain its surprising lack of light. [Strangest Black Holes In the Universe]

"There's been a debate for the last 20 years or so about what actually is happening to the matter around the black hole," said research leader Q. Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. "Whether the black hole is accreting the matter, or actually whether the matter can be ejected. This is the first direct evidence for outflow in the accretion process." ...






Michio Kaku: Which Came First, the Galaxy or the Black Hole?


Dr. Michio Kaku is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, a futurist, and a "communicator" and "popularizer" of science. He has written several books about physics and related topics; he has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film; and he writes extensive online blogs and articles. He has written two New York Times best sellers, Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2011). He has hosted several TV specials for BBC TV, the Discovery Channel, and the Science Channel.



At the heart of every galaxy like our own Milky Way lies a Supermassive Black Hole, but scientists are unsure which develops first.

Question: Are the supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies involved in the formation of those galaxies? (Submitted by Andy Speight)

Michio Kaku:


Well Andy, you ask a very touchy subject. What came first, the chicken or the egg, the galaxy or the black hole?


We still don't know. First of all, if you want to see the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy go out tonight and look in the direction of Sagittarius. That is where we have a super-massive black hole at the very center or our own backyard, the Milky Way galaxy. It weighs two to three million times the mass of our sun.

Now the latest theory about which came first is the following: First, we think that out of the big bang came dark matter, invisible matter. If I held dark matter in my hand it would literally ooze its way right through my fingers, go right to the center of the earth, go to China and then go back and forth between China and my hand. That is dark matter. We think that dark matter begins to clump first because of gravity, then matter was attracted to the clumpiness creating the super-massive black hole and then later the galaxy itself began to form. We have computer simulations about this, but still the relationship is not yet clear.
Now remember, stars—we know almost everything about stellar evolution. That is because the Pentagon has given us physicists billions of dollars to model hydrogen bombs and a star is nothing but a hydrogen bomb. However, a galaxy consists of over a hundred billion stars, so it's much more difficult to tell which came first, the black hole or the galaxy itself.


Black Holes Discovered 20 Billion times the Sun's Mass -Michio Kaku   ( 30 mins)


Theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku commented on the discovery of two gigantic black holes, as well as other science and space news. The black holes have a staggering mass that is 20 billion times that of our sun, and are 10 times the size of our solar system. Intriguingly, he suggested that the billions of stars that fell into such a black hole could be shot out the other end through a "white hole" in a process like the Big Bang.









As the Solar System, orbits the

Milky Way galaxy follows a path

that travels above and below the

equator of the galactic plane.




Celestial Coordinate System

In astronomy, a celestial coordinate system is a coordinate system for mapping positions on the celestial sphere. There are different celestial coordinate systems each using a system of spherical coordinates projected on the celestial sphere, in analogy to the geographic coordinate system used on the surface of the Earth.[1] The coordinate systems differ only in their choice of the fundamental plane, which divides the sky into two equal hemispheres along a great circle. For example, the fundamental plane of the geographic system is the Earth's equator. Each coordinate system is named for its choice of fundamental plane.

Orientation of Astronomical Coordinates


Orientation of the galactic, ecliptic and equatorial coordinate systems, projected on the celestial sphere, showing the galactic equator (black), north galactic pole (NGP), the ecliptic (orange), north ecliptic pole (NEP), the celestial equator (blue) and north celestial pole (NCP). Sun and earth not shown to scale but to indicate sun's orbital direction around the galactic center and earth's orbital direction around the sun.



Earth's pole lying immersed in the

galactic plane






Earth Orbit Orientation Respecting the Galactic Equator

With respect to the Milky Way star band, one may note that the orbital path of the earth about the sun, from a visual perspective, appears to ‘cross over the equator of the galaxy’ at about 60 degrees. In the diagram pictured (below), the observer is positioned at the centre of the sun looking towards the centre of the Milky Way. The ecliptic line as marked is of the path taken by the earth in the course of a single year in orbit of the sun. The galactic equator, as also marked, is a line of ‘best fit’ that places half of the stars in one hemisphere and half in the other, as viewed from the centre of the present solar system. It is a line determined purely by statistical methods. The marked point (<) of the Milky Way is the exact centre of the galaxy:


Our Sun transitioning over 5000 period


    Sun on Galactic Plane & Equator



Earth's pole lying immersed in the galactic plane 






Galactic Alignment


Just like the Earth orbits the Sun, the Sun itself is part of the Milky Way galaxy. It takes about 220 million years for the Sun to complete a single journey around the Milky Way. But the Sun also bobs up and down as it travels in orbit around the center of the galaxy. The oscillation takes a total of 64 million years to complete. And there’s a moment when the Sun passes directly through the galactic disk and there’s a perfect galactic alignment between the Sun and the center of the galaxy.


When’s that galactic alignment going to happen? It’s almost impossible to know exactly. The Milky Way is 100,000 light-years across, but only 1,000 light-years thick. So during the course of that 64 million year cycle, the Sun rises above the galactic plane 500 light-years, passes down through the galactic plane, until it’s 500 light-years below and then comes back up again.

There has to be a moment when everything’s in perfect alignment, but the timescales are so long that astronomers couldn’t calculate it. Of course, this alignment with the center of the galaxy doesn’t have an effect on the Earth or the Solar System, it’s just like crossing an imaginary line in space, like traveling from Canada to the United States in your car.


There’s another type of galactic alignment. This is where the Earth, Sun and the center of the galaxy are in perfect alignment from our perspective. This actually happens every year during the winter solstice, on December 21st. Because of a wobble in the Earth’s orbit, the positions of the constellations slowly shift from year to year. The most perfect galactic alignment between the Earth, Sun and the center of the Milky Way happened back in 1998, but now we’re slowly shifting away from that alignment. In the coming decades, the perfect alignment will shift to another day.



                   Earth Movement through the Galactic Plane



               Earth & Sun Movement through Galactic Plane





Movement of Stars - and Planet Earth - in the Milky Way Galaxy


Stars in the Milky Way galaxy (including the Sun) move at different speeds around the galactic center and in different displacements above or below the galactic plane [1]:

· Old stars (such as the Sun) have high velocities and can move out of the galactic plane.

· Young stars have low velocities and small displacements from the galactic plane.

· Giant molecular clouds (birthplaces of stars) also have low velocities and stay relatively close to the galactic plane.

Motion of the Solar System with the Planets trough the Milky Way Galaxy

Overall, the entire galaxy rotates clockwise (as viewed from “galactic north”) at a roughly constant velocity of 160-220 km/sec:

  • · Relative to this velocity, the Sun and its planetary system move around the galactic center at a velocity of 17-22 km/sec, in a roughly elliptical orbit, with a period of about 240 million years.

  • · The Sun and its planetary system also move perpendicular to the galactic plane (up and down in a harmonic fashion) with a period of 57-74 million years.

The Solar system, therefore, has two main components of  motion within the Milky Way galaxy:

1. A round-and-round motion around the galactic center, and
2. an up-and-down motion across the galactic plane, 

both taking place simultaneously.

An in-and-out motion (from the galactic center) due to its elliptical orbit also gives the Solar system a third distinctive component of motion in the galaxy. Another way to say all this is that the Sun and its planets spiral through the Milky Way like a corkscrew

Even Bigger Cosmic Motions

Not only does the Solar system move around the Milky Way galaxy, but also the Milky Way galaxy moves around the center of a super-cluster of 2,500 neighboring galaxies.

And this super-cluster of 2,500 galaxies (including the Milky Way) is hurtling through space towards a point now known as “The Great Attractor”.





The Milky Way contains

100 billion Planets



The Milky Way contains 100 billion Planets

New Nasa study reveals a Galaxy full of Planets

A detailed statistical study by Nasa scientists has revealed that our Milky Way galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets.

The discovery was made by a team of astronomers and is based on the detection of three planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets.

The survey results show that our galaxy contains, on average, a minimum of one planet for every star. This means that it's likely there is a minimum of
1,500 planets within just 50 light-years of Earth.

Stephen Kane of NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology and a co-author of the said: "Results from the three main techniques of planet detection, including Microlensing, are rapidly converging to a common result: Not only are planets common in the galaxy, but there are more small planets than large ones."

The technique of Microlensing means using one star as a magnifying lens to brighten the light from a background star. The background star's light will brighten further if there are planets orbiting the foreground star, these planets would otherwise have been too faint to see.

The study is based on observations taken over six years and it also concludes that there are far more Earth-sized planets than the huge Jupiter-sized bodies. A rough estimate points to around 10 billion earth-like planets.

Mr Kane added:


"This is encouraging news for investigations into habitable (or inhabited ) planets."






Scientists Puzzled by Region Outside Solar System

(AP Feb 2012) — A glimpse beyond our solar system reveals the neighborhood just outside the sun's influence is different and stranger than expected, scientists reported Tuesday. One oddity is the amount of oxygen. There are more oxygen atoms floating freely in the solar system than in the immediate interstellar space, or the vast region between stars. Scientists were unsure why, but they said it's possible some of the life-supporting element could be hidden in dust or ice.

"We discovered this big puzzle —
that the matter just outside of our solar system doesn't look like the material inside," said David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

The discovery came from NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer spacecraft, which launched in 2008 to study the chaotic boundary where the solar wind from the sun clashes with cold gases from interstellar space.

Circling 200,000 miles above Earth, the Ibex spacecraft spots particles streaming into the solar system. A protective bubble surrounding around the sun and planets prevents dangerous cosmic radiation from seeping through, but neutral particles can pass freely, allowing Ibex to map their distribution. The presence of less oxygen outside the solar system should not have any bearing on the search for Earth-like planets, scientists involved in the Exo-planet hunt said.

There's plenty of oxygen in all the stars in the galaxy and in the material out of which stars and planets form, Geoff Marcy of University of California, Berkeley said in an email. While Ibex probes the edge of the solar system from Earth orbit, NASA's long-running, nuclear-powered twin Voyager spacecraft are at the fringes. Launched in 1977, the spacecraft have been exploring the solar system boundary since 2004.

Scientists have said it'll be months or years before Voyager 1 exits the solar system and becomes the first manmade probe to cross into interstellar space. 

Scientists puzzled by region outside solar system ( 2 mins)




The exciting discoveries of Exo-Planets



Cosmic Journeys: The Search For Earth-Like Planets ( 22 mins)

The search for Earth-like planets is reaching a fever-pitch. Does the evidence so far help shed light on the ancient question: Is the galaxy filled with life, or is Earth just a beautiful, lonely aberration? If things dont work out on this planet Or if our itch to explore becomes unbearable at some point in the future Astronomers have recently found out what kind of galactic real estate might be available to us. Well have to develop advanced transport to land there, 20 light years away. The question right now: is it worth the trip?

NASA's Kepler Mission Discovery Summary, Dec. 2011 ( 3mins)

Exo-Plantes Scientists from NASA's Kepler mission have been busy recently. The team has announced the discovery of Kepler-22b, its first confirmed planet in the habitable zone of its solar system, 600 light years away. They have also been combing through light data captured by the telescope and have released the latest number of planetary candidates team members have identified. Staff and scientists also got together (along with a special guest!) recently to celebrate 1,000 days of science operations by the mission.








New Estimate for Alien Earths: 2 Billion in Our Galaxy Alone

Hubble team detects a Watery super-Earth enshrouded by Thick Atmosphere

Extrasolar Planets discovered around the sStar Kepler 11




An artist's illustration of the extrasolar planets discovered around the star Kepler 11

by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope.


Roughly one out of every 37 to one out of every 70 sunlike stars in the sky might harbor an alien Earth, a new study reveals.

These findings hint that billions of Earthlike planets might exist in our galaxy alone, researchers added.

These new calculations are based in data from the Kepler space telescope, which in February wowed the globe by revealing more than 1,200 possible alien worlds, including 68 potentially Earth-size planets. The spacecraft does so by looking for the dimming that occurs when a world transits or moves in front of a star.

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., focused on roughly Earth-size planets within the habitable zones of their stars — that is, orbits where liquid water can exist on the surfaces of those worlds…



Massive Star ever found - R136a1

( Shown on Darker Blue)

Is about 265 times the mass of our sun.





Largest Star ever discovered, compared to our Sun ( 1 mins)

Discovery Channel shows Earth, compared to the Sun, and then to a few other massive stars in our own Milky Way


A newfound star has shattered the record as the most massive stellar monster ever seen, astronomers announced today.

Weighing in at a whopping 265 times the mass of our sun, the behemoth may have actually slimmed down since birth, when it likely tipped the scales at 320 times the sun's mass.

The discovery could rewrite the laws of stellar physics, since it's long been thought that stars beyond a certain mass would be too unstable to survive.

"We are really taken aback, because up until now the astronomical community at large has assumed that the upper size limit for stars would be around 150" times the mass of the sun, said study co-author Richard Parker, an astronomer at the University of Sheffield in the U.K.

"This giant could really revolutionize the way we think about how stars form and die in clusters and galaxies."




The location of the Pleiades on the Constellation Taurus.


A Spitzer image of the Pleiades in infrared, showing the associated dust





The Pleiades Star System

In astronomy, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters (Messier object 45 or M45), is an open star cluster containing middle-aged hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. Pleiades has several meanings in different cultures and traditions.

The cluster is dominated by hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Dust that forms a faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought at first to be left over from the formation of the cluster (hence the alternate name Maia Nebula after the star Maia), but is now known to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium that the stars are currently passing through. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood….







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Galaxy Types and Morphology




Elliptical - an example of a barred spiral


Rings Galaxies



Galaxy Types and Morphology










Types of Galaxies according to the Hubble classification scheme.







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Milky Way Galaxies’ Globular Clusters and Dwarf Galaxies ...





Globular Clusters



Globular Star Clusters and Dwarf Galaxies




Milky Way Galaxy Began with Globular Star Clusters and

Dwarf Galaxies -- New Findings

An exciting new study shows that the Milky Way's construction schedule began with the oldest globular star clusters and dwarf galaxies, which formed a few hundred million years after the big bang, settling into what is now the galaxy's halo, merging over billions of years to form the structure of our Milky Way. Stars in the inner halo were born during the assembly process. Over time, the Milky Way gobbled up older dwarf galaxies that formed less than 2 billion years after the big bang, with their ancient stars settling into the outskirts of the halo, creating the outer halo….



The halo is a spherical cloud of stars surrounding our galaxy's disk.

( See Natgeo Video on the Milky Way>>>>)

Galaxies, Clusters, and Superclusters - Run-away galaxies etc…



Massive globular clusters (GCs),




Small Stellar Systems in Tuscany:
From Globular Clusters to Dwarf Galaxies and Everything in Between


10th - 14th June 2013, Prato, Italy


The aim of this conference is to bring together observers and theorists to discuss the latest observations and simulations of the "zoo of little things" including:

  • Massive globular clusters (GCs),

  • Extended clusters (ECs),

  • Ultra Compact Dwarfs (UCDs),

  • Dwarf galaxy transition objects (DGTOs),

  • Intermediate mass objects (IMOs),

  • Ttidal dwarf galaxies (TDGs),

  • Dwarf elliptical (dE),

  • Dwarf spheroidal (dSph) and

  • Compact ellipticals (cE).







Galaxies out of Thin Air?


Galaxy birth: The UV vision of NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer reveals, for the first time, dwarf galaxies (circled) forming out of nothing more than pristine gas leftover (hydrogen, in blue) from the early universe. Dwarf galaxies are relatively small collections of stars that often orbit around larger galaxies like our Milky Way.





Large  Magellanic Clouds


Small Magellanic Clouds



The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds - Dwarf Galaxies


The two Magellanic Clouds (or Nubeculae Magellani[1]) are irregular dwarf galaxies visible from the southern hemisphere, which are members of our Local Group and are orbiting our Milky Way galaxy.[2] The two galaxies are:


Looming near the mighty sweep of the southern Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds resemble detached pieces of our galaxy. Astronomers once assumed they had always orbited the Milky Way at approximately their current distances, like the other, lesser satellite galaxies in the Milky Way's gravitational thrall. But new evidence suggests that the Magellanic Clouds have instead spent most of their careers farther away and are currently experiencing a rare close encounter with our galaxy. If so, we may be witnessing the onset of an intergalactic pas de trois—a dance of the sort that can shatter the composure of galaxies, forging billions of new stars and planets while flinging others into the depths of space.





Other Misc.



It's likely there is a minimum of 1,500 planets within just 50 light-years of Earth

– in our own Milky Way.

On this scale, each pixel is well over

100 light years across. Sun and

Gliese 581 are in the same pixel.



Light-year – ( Symbol: ly)

Distance light travels in one year in the vacuum of space, roughly 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion kilometers).

A unit of astronomical distance equivalent to the distance that light travels in one year, which is 9.4607 × 1012 km (nearly...

A light-year, also light year or lightyear (symbol: ly), is a unit of length equal to just under 10 trillion kilometres (or about 6 trillion miles). As defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a light-year is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one Julian year.

The light-year is often used to measure distances to stars and other distances on a galactic scale, especially in non-specialist and popular science publications. The preferred unit in astrometry is the parsec (approximately 3.26 light-years), because it can be more easily derived from, and compared with, observational data.







AU - Astronomical Units


An astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU, au, a.u., or ua) is a unit of length equal to exactly 149,597,870,700 meters    (92,955,807.273 mi)[1] or approximately the mean Earth–Sun distance.



Average Distance from the Sun
(measured in AU)


























Astronomy Dictionary









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