The Wild History of the Milky Way

Milky Way Universe

Gaia’s Galaxy: The sky in catalog EDR3 is based on 34 months of measurement time by the European astrometry satellite Gaia and was published in December 2020. The galactic disk, with the center of the Milky Way at its very center, runs equatorially in the image. It is not a photo, but a sky map with all more than 1.81 billion measured stars and over 1.61 million extragalactic objects (stars of other galaxies, distant galaxies and quasars). Each bright dot corresponds to a catalog entry, its color based on measurements by Gaia’s photometers. The Large (1) and Small (2) Magellanic Clouds are clearly visible in the southern sky. The ellipse marks the position of the small neighboring galaxy Sagittarius, which is not directly visible but is only about 70,000 light-years away.
© ESA/Gaia/DPAC, A Moitinho

Collisions, cannibalism and creations - of dwarves, giants and the emergence of our cosmic homeland.


Astronomers are like most people: Often a situation is difficult only because you are in the middle of it and you don't have an overview. However, the scientific problem is much larger - it spans more than 100,000 light-years. Because that's the diameter of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, also called the galaxy. Because the Sun is within the disc-shaped island of stars, when viewed from Earth, it appears as a milky band stretching across the sky.

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