How Many Light Years Is The Milky Way latest 2023

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Our Milky Way Galaxy’s New Little Neighbor

The starry galaxies of the Cosmos are not randomly distributed, but rather live together in groups. Our own large and majestic barred spiral galaxy, the Milky Way, is no exception – it is a sparkling inhabitant of a collection of galaxies containing more than fifty starry constituents that make up what is known as the Local group. The local group includes among its members another well-known large spiral, the Andromeda Galaxy – which is similar in size to our Milky Way – as well as over 40 other much smaller galaxies. In December 2014, a Russian-American team of astronomers announced that they had discovered another member of the local group, a dazzling new little neighbor to our own Milky Way – it’s a tiny isolated dwarf galaxy almost 7 million light-years away. The results of the study are in The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The team of astronomers, led by Dr Igor Karachentsev of the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Karachai-Cherkessia, Russia, discovered the tiny galaxy, dubbed KKs3, using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Advanced Survey Camera (ACS) in August 2014. Located in the southern sky towards the constellation Hydra, KKs3 the stars have barely one ten thousandth the mass of our Milky Way.

Galaxy clusters and superclusters are the largest known structures in the Universe, and they are interconnected, illuminating what is a mysterious, transparent network of filaments. Huge galactic superclusters are located where these invisible filaments intersect. However, even though all these huge and massive structures are interconnected, they have ill-defined boundaries. Our own Milky Way, along with the rest of the galactic constituents of the local group, reside in a huge supercluster of galaxies called Laniakea supercluster. Laniakea is Hawaiian for “vast sky”.

huge sky

Laniakea is a vast region of space, spanning approximately 160 million parsecs, and hosts several other nearby superclusters, including Perseus-Pisces, Coma, and Shapley–and together they can all compose a hypercluster.

A myriad of stars illuminate the more than 100 billion galaxies that populate our observable Universe. The observable, or visible, Universe is that relatively small region of the Universe that can be observed. Most of the incredible vast cosmos is located far beyond what we can see, both with our telescopes and our unaided human eyes. This is because the light that makes its long journey to us from these incredibly distant regions has not had enough time to reach us since the birth of the Universe by the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago. years. The starry galaxies of the Cosmos trace the enormous mysterious and transparent filaments of the cosmic web thought to be composed of invisible, bizarre elements black matter. Most astronomers believe that the black matter is composed of as yet unidentified, exotic, non-atomic particles that do not interact with light or any other form of electromagnetic radiation – which is why the black matter is transparent. The scintillating stellar galaxies which move together in groups, clusters and superclusters draw with their fabulous light the filaments of the transparent and the invisible. cosmic web— thus revealing to the curious eyes of observers what they could not see otherwise.

The Milky Way and Andromeda (M31) are the two largest members of the local group of galaxies, which are a few million light-years in diameter. The famous Andromeda Galaxy, like our Milky Way, is an elegant sparkling spiral, splashed with stars – a whirling paddle wheel in space. Currently, Andromeda is at a very comfortable distance of 2 million light-years, but it won’t stay at that safe distance forever. Tragically, the heartless pull of gravity pulls Andromeda towards our doomed Milky Way at the breathtaking speed of 100 kilometers per second. A light year is the distance that light can travel in a vacuum in one year, approximately 5,878,625 million kilometers.

The local group, huge as it is, is actually quite small compared to entire galaxy clusters. The huge clusters of galaxies that populate the Universe can host up to hundreds of galactic members. Our local group is located near the outer limits of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, whose nucleus is about 50 million light-years from where we are. The many galaxy groups and galaxy clusters are themselves smaller constituents of incredibly huge web-like filaments and thin, wide expanses. For example, a collection of sheet-shaped galaxies playfully dubbed the Great Wallis located about 200 million light-years from us, and a similar huge structure is called the Great Attractor. The Great attractor relentlessly pulls, with its ruthless gravitational pull, over the whole Virgo cluster. Of course, we accompany the journey at a few hundred kilometers per second.

When the collision between our Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy occurs in the distant future, the two merged spiral galaxies will experience a drastic change. Galloping towards each other at a speed of 250,000 miles per hour, the Milky Way and Andromeda will crash violently and mercilessly in about 4 billion years. When the two elegant starry spirals collide, they combine to create a new, strange and enormous galaxy – a gigantic elliptical that astronomers sometimes call the Great Milkomeda galaxy. A elliptical galaxy is a type of galaxy that has an ellipsoidal shape and a smooth, featureless brightness profile. Unlike flat spirals which possess both structure and organization, ellipsoids do not show much structure and their stars are in somewhat random orbits around the center.

The new little neighbor of our milky way!

KKs3 is a spheroidal dwarf or dSph galaxy, which is a type of galaxy lacking features such as the elegant spiral arms of our own galaxy and Andromeda. These systems also lack the raw materials (dust and gas) so necessary to give birth to new generations of twinkling stars, thus leaving behind older and fainter relics. In almost all cases, the dust and gas appear to have been snatched up by nearby massive galaxies like Andromeda, resulting in the vast majority of dSph galaxies being located in close proximity to much larger galactic companions.

However, isolated objects such as KKs3 had to train differently. One possibility is that these isolated objects had an early and furious burst of star birth that depleted available gas resources. Astronomers are particularly interested in finding dSph objects in order to understand how galaxies form in the Universe in general. Even HST has trouble observing these objects beyond the Local group. The absence of hydrogen gas clouds in nebulae also makes them more difficult to observe in surveys, so astronomers attempt to spot them by selecting individual stars.

For this reason, only one other isolated spheroidal dwarfnicknamed KKK 25was detected inhabiting the local group–a discovery that was made in 1999 by the same team of astronomers.

Team member Dr Dimitry Makarov, also from Special Astrophysical Observatory, noted in a December 19, 2014 Royal Astronomical Society press release: “Finding objects like KKs3 is painstaking work, even with observatories like the The Hubble Space Telescope. But by dint of perseverance, we slowly build a map of our local neighborhood, which turns out to be less empty than we thought. There may be a large number of spheroidal dwarf galaxies out there, something that would have profound consequences for our ideas about the evolution of the Cosmos.”

The team of astronomers plans to continue hunting dSph galaxies, a business that will become a little easier in the next few years, once James Webb Space Telescope and the Very Large European Telescope begin their observations.

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