Space news: The incredible secrets of the Milky Way are REVEALED – 'Like a river of light'

1. How big is the Milky Way galaxy? How many stars are in it?

From our vantage point on Earth, we cannot quite see the shape and size of the Milky Way.

But astronomers estimate the galaxy measures a mind-boggling 100,000 light-years across – a distance of 587,862,540,000,000,000 miles.

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy and boasts four spindly arms coiling around a central supermassive black hole dubbed Sagittarius A* (read: a-star).

Miss Lavender said: “Our home galaxy is packed with around 200 billion stars, collaboratively tipping the scales at an impressive 1.5 trillion times the mass of our Sun and extending for up to 100,000 light-years in diameter with a thickness of some 1,000 light-years.

“Our first impression is that it’s home sweet home, but what would immediately become apparent could you zoo outwards is the Milky Way’s structure: a mixed-up pattern of haze and points of light warped into a winding spiral, with a blazing bright centre, stretched – or elongated – into the shape of a bar.”


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