The Milky Way Galaxy

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The Milky Way Galaxy A spiral galaxy, type Sbc, centered in Sagittarius The Milky Way is the galaxy which is the home of our Solar System together with at least 200 billion other stars (more recent estimates have given numbers around 400 billion) and their planets, and thousands of clusters and nebulae, including at least almost all objects of Messier's catalog which are not galaxies on their own (one might consider two globular clusters as possible exceptions, as probably they are just being, or have recently been, incorporated or imported into our Galaxy from dwarf galaxies which are currently in close encounters with the Milky Way: M54 from SagDEG, and possibly M79 from the Canis Major Dwarf). See our Messier Objects in the Milky Way page, where details are given for each object to which part of our Galaxy it is related. All the objects in the Milky Way Galaxy orbit their common center of mass, called the Galactic Center (see below). As a galaxy, the Milky Way is actually a giant, as its mass is probably between 750 billion and one trillion solar masses, and its diameter is about 100,000 light years. Radio astronomial investigations of the distribution of hydrogen clouds have revealed that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy of Hubble type Sb or Sc. Therefore, our galaxy has both a pronounced disk component exhibiting a spiral structure, and a prominent nuclear reagion which is part of a notable bulge/halo component. Decade-long observations have brought up more and more evidence that the Milky Way may also have a bar structure (so that it would be type SB), so that it may look like M61 or M83, and is perhaps best classified as SABbc. Recent investigations have brought up support for the assumption that the Milky Way may even have a pronounced central bar like barred spiral galaxies M58, M91, M95, or M109, and thus be of Hubble type SBb or SBc.  More on the

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