The Milky Way

Our Home

The Milky Way Galaxy is most significant to humans because it is where we call home in the universe. The Milky Way, as it turns out, is nothing special in the heavens. It is a typical barred spiral, much like billions of other galaxies in the universe. A look up at the night sky reveals a broad swath of hazy light. Described by people of ancient times as a river, as milk, and as a path, among other things, the band has been visible in the heavens since Earth first formed. Intriguingly, this line of light is the center of our galaxy, as seen from one of its outer arms.


Our Closest Galaxial Neighbor

The Andromeda Galaxy (also referred to as M31) is the closest big galaxy to our own. It is a spiral galaxy, as well. At 2.5 million light-years distance away, it is the most distant object in the night sky that can be seen with the naked eye. Several other smaller, minor-classed galaxies lie closer to our galaxy but cannot be seen without optical aid, excluding some star clusters known as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Andromeda appears in the sky as a tiny and hazy smudge of light just slightly large than a full moon.


A Galaxy Far, Far Away

In July 2015, EGSY8p7 was announced as the oldest and most-distant known object, surpassing the previous record holder, EGS-zs8-1, which was determined in May 2015 as the oldest and most distant object from earth at a distance of 13.2 billion light years from Earth. The light now being gathered by earthbound telescopes and instrumentation and from the Hubble Space Telescope is as it was seen 570 million years after the Big Bang, what is believed in consensus, by scientists and astronomers as the beginning of the cosmos. It is theorized that there most likely are galaxies more distant than this, but EGS8p7 is the furthest that has been detected. It appears as a tiny speck, that is barely visible with the aid of our most sophisticated technologies. The image depicted here is the result of computer-generated shape from light measurements that could be taken and an artist's rendering of that galaxy's most likely appearance if it could be seen by human beings on earth.

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